Top 10 Books That Should Be on Every Woman Leader’s Reading List

Are you a woman in leadership looking to sharpen your skills and broaden your perspectives?

Reading is a powerful tool for personal and professional growth, especially when the authors share your experiences and challenges.

This article presents ten must-read women leadership books written by women authors that every female leader should have on her bookshelf.

From Sheryl Sandberg’s game-changing “Lean In” to Arianna Huffington’s insightful “Thrive,” these books cover essential topics like communication, emotional intelligence, innovation, and work-life balance. They offer practical advice, inspiring stories, and fresh insights tailored to the unique journey of women in leadership roles.

Whether you’re climbing the corporate ladder or running your own business, these books will empower you to lead with confidence, creativity, and authenticity.

Leadership Fundamentals

When it comes to building a strong foundation for women in leadership, these two books are essential reads. They offer complementary perspectives on how to navigate the challenges of leadership and harness your authentic strengths.

Read More: The 10 Leadership Fundamentals Every Leader Needs to Know  

“Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg

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Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” is a cornerstone among leadership books for women. This powerful read tackles workplace gender inequalities head-on, encouraging women to assert themselves and pursue their ambitions unapologetically. Sandberg blends personal anecdotes with data-driven insights, making a compelling case for women to “sit at the table” and make their voices heard.

Key takeaways include:

Sandberg’s rallying cry resonates throughout the book:

“We need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women’s voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored.”

Oprah Winfrey’s endorsement captures the book’s essence:

“Sheryl provides practical advice on negotiation techniques, mentorship, and building a satisfying career. This is a must-read for all women.”

“Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.” by Brené Brown

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Brené Brown’s “Dare to Lead” offers a fresh perspective on leadership, focusing on the power of vulnerability and empathy. This book for women leaders challenges the notion that leaders must always appear strong and infallible. Instead, Brown argues that true courage comes from embracing our vulnerabilities and leading with our whole hearts.

Brown’s approach to leadership includes:

  • Building trust through authenticity
  • Navigating difficult conversations
  • Creating a culture of belonging

Her research-based strategies provide practical tools for leaders to implement in their daily work. Brown emphasizes,

“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.”

Communication and Influence

Effective communication and personal influence are crucial skills for any leader. These two books offer invaluable insights and practical strategies to help women leaders enhance their impact and presence in the workplace.

“Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office” by Lois P. Frankel

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In this eye-opening women in leadership book, Lois P. Frankel addresses the unconscious behaviors that might be holding women back in their careers. “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office” is a must-read for any woman looking to enhance her communication skills and professional presence.

Key insights include:

  • Identifying and overcoming self-sabotaging behaviors
  • Learning to communicate assertively without being labeled as “aggressive”
  • Navigating office politics effectively

Frankel provides practical strategies for:

  • Negotiating salary and promotions
  • Speaking up in meetings
  • Setting and maintaining professional boundaries

As Meg Whitman, former CEO of HP, puts it:

“This book is a must-read for any woman who wants to succeed in the workplace. Lois Frankel presents invaluable advice in a straightforward, engaging style.”

“Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges” by Amy Cuddy

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Amy Cuddy’s “Presence” is a game-changer among leadership books for women. It focuses on the power of body language and non-verbal communication in projecting confidence and authority.

Cuddy introduces the concept of “power posing” and explains how our physical posture can influence our mental state and how others perceive us. The book offers:

  • Research-backed techniques for increasing personal presence
  • Strategies for managing stress in high-pressure situations
  • Methods for aligning your body language with your words for maximum impact

Key takeaways for women leaders include:

  • How to project confidence in challenging situations
  • Techniques for reducing anxiety before important events
  • Ways to appear more authoritative in leadership roles

Sheryl Sandberg, author of “Lean In,” praises the book:

“Amy Cuddy is making the world a braver place with her book, Presence. Weaving together science, practical examples, and storytelling, Cuddy shows us how bringing our boldest, most authentic selves to challenging situations inspires others to do the same.”

Emotional Intelligence and Self-Awareness

Understanding yourself and others is a cornerstone of effective leadership. These two books offer powerful insights into personality types and mindsets, helping women leaders harness their unique strengths and foster growth in themselves and their teams.

“Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain

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Susan Cain’s “Quiet” is a groundbreaking book for women leaders, especially those who identify as introverts. This insightful work challenges the extrovert ideal prevalent in many workplaces and highlights the unique strengths that introverts bring to leadership roles.

Key insights:

  • Understanding the biological and cultural roots of introversion
  • Recognizing the power of quiet leadership
  • Leveraging introvert strengths in communication and problem-solving

Practical takeaways for leaders:

  • Creating inclusive environments that value both introverted and extroverted styles
  • Balancing solo work with collaborative efforts
  • Harnessing the power of deep thinking and careful listening

Bill Gates, a self-proclaimed introvert, praises the book:

“Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts and how much we lose in doing so. This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.”

“Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol S. Dweck

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Carol S. Dweck’s “Mindset” is a transformative women in leadership book that explores the power of our beliefs and how they shape our behavior and success. Dweck introduces the concept of fixed versus growth mindset, providing a new lens through which to view challenges and personal development.

Core concepts:

  • Fixed mindset: Believing abilities are innate and unchangeable
  • Growth mindset: Believing abilities can be developed through effort and learning

Benefits for women leaders:

  • Embracing challenges as opportunities for growth
  • Developing resilience in the face of setbacks
  • Encouraging a culture of continuous learning and improvement

Strategies for cultivating a growth mindset:

  • Reframing failure as a learning opportunity
  • Emphasizing effort and process over innate talent
  • Seeking out constructive feedback and using it for improvement

Daniel Pink, bestselling author of “Drive” and “To Sell Is Human,” praises the book:

“If you manage people or are a parent (which is a form of managing people), drop everything and read Mindset. A brilliant book that shows how mindset can inspire confidence, creativity, and perseverance in all aspects of life.”

Innovation and Strategic Thinking

In today’s rapidly changing business landscape, innovation and strategic thinking are essential skills for leaders. These two books offer valuable insights on fostering creativity and stepping into your full potential as a woman leader.

“Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration” by Amy Wallace (co-authored with Ed Catmull)

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“Creativity, Inc.” is a must-read leadership book for women seeking to unleash innovation in their organizations. Co-authored by Amy Wallace and Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull, this book offers a deep dive into the creative process and how to nurture it within teams.

Key insights:

  • Understanding the invisible forces that can stifle creativity
  • Building a culture that embraces risk-taking and learning from failures
  • Balancing creative vision with practical execution

Strategies for innovation:

  • Encouraging open communication and idea-sharing
  • Implementing effective feedback mechanisms
  • Creating spaces for experimentation and play

Forbes praises the book:

“Creativity, Inc. is a manual for anyone who strives for originality and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation—into the meetings, postmortems, and ‘Braintrust’ sessions where some of the most successful films in history are made.”

“Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead” by Tara Mohr

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Tara Mohr’s “Playing Big” is a transformative book for women leaders, focusing on overcoming self-doubt and making a bigger impact in their careers and lives. This empowering read provides practical strategies for women to step into their full potential as leaders and innovators.

Core concepts:

  • Identifying and quieting the inner critic
  • Recognizing and leveraging your unique gifts
  • Developing a compelling vision for your work and life

Strategies for playing big:

  • Practicing authentic communication
  • Taking calculated risks and embracing failure as a learning opportunity
  • Cultivating mentorship and supportive relationships

Actionable steps:

  • Identifying your inner mentor and tapping into its wisdom
  • Using “power language” to communicate more effectively
  • Creating and acting on your personal visibility plan

Brené Brown, author of “Dare to Lead,” endorses the book:

“At last. At last this very important book has been written, encouraging women to take up all the creative space they deserve in the world. I hope it will empower legions of women to step into their greatness.”

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Creating inclusive workplaces is not just a moral imperative, but also a business necessity. This book offers vital insights and strategies for women leaders committed to driving meaningful change in their organizations.

“The Diversity Advantage: Fixing Gender Inequality in the Workplace” by Ruchika Tulshyan

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Ruchika Tulshyan’s “The Diversity Advantage” is a crucial addition to any collection of women leadership books. This insightful work tackles the systemic barriers that perpetuate gender inequality in the workplace and offers practical solutions for creating more inclusive environments.

Key insights:

  • Understanding intersectionality and its impact on workplace experiences
  • Recognizing and addressing unconscious bias
  • The business case for diversity and inclusion

Strategies for promoting diversity:

  • Implementing inclusive hiring practices
  • Creating mentorship and sponsorship programs
  • Developing policies that support work-life integration

Melinda Gates praises the book:

“Tulshyan offers a refreshing and nuanced look at the challenges women face in the workplace. Her practical strategies for creating more inclusive environments are invaluable for leaders committed to real change.”

Work-Life Balance and Well-being

Achieving a healthy work-life balance is important for sustainable leadership and personal fulfillment. This book challenges traditional notions of success and offers a fresh perspective on thriving in both professional and personal realms.

Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder” by Arianna Huffington

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Arianna Huffington’s “Thrive” is a game-changing book for women leaders seeking to redefine success beyond the traditional metrics of money and power. This leadership book for women introduces a ‘third metric’ that encompasses well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.

Core concepts:

  • Understanding the limitations of defining success solely through money and power
  • Recognizing the importance of well-being in sustainable leadership
  • Incorporating mindfulness and wonder into daily life

Strategies for thriving:

  • Prioritizing sleep and rest
  • Practicing meditation and mindfulness
  • Cultivating gratitude and wonder

Practical tips:

  • Creating a ‘digital detox’ routine
  • Setting boundaries between work and personal life
  • Incorporating small moments of joy and wonder into each day

Oprah Winfrey praises the book:

“In Thrive, Arianna Huffington makes an impassioned and compelling case for the need to redefine what it means to be successful in today’s world. Her focus on the importance of sleep, mindfulness, and stillness as key ingredients of wisdom and creativity struck a powerful chord in me personally.”


Ready to dive into these empowering reads?

It’s important to remember that leadership is a journey, not a destination. Each of these books offers unique insights and strategies to help you navigate the challenges of being a woman in leadership.

Pick one that resonates with you and start reading today. As you apply these lessons to your professional life, you’ll likely find yourself growing more confident, innovative, and effective as a leader.

Happy reading, and here’s to your continued success!

About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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