15 Books That Have Shaped Me as a Leader

It’s often said that leaders are readers. I’ve always loved what Rick Warren says: “Leaders are learners. The moment you stop learning, you stop leading!”

I have put together a list of 15 books that have shaped me as a leader. These aren’t necessarily the best books on leadership—they’re not even all specifically leadership books—but they are books I have read that have shaped me in some lasting, meaningful way.

Holy Discontent (Bill Hybels). Bill Hybels is at the top of my must-read authors. Anytime I listen to, or read, Bill Hybels, I always come away challenged and motivated! See my post on this book.

Courageous Leadership (Bill Hybels). Leaders must have courage. Leaders need to read this book! (See my post on this book.)

Too Busy Not to Pray (Bill Hybels). Ironically, I just read this classic book this week. It’s not specifically a book on leadership, but a book on prayer written by a leader about a topic in which Christ-following leaders must do well.

Communicating for a Change (Andy Stanley and Lane Jones). The most popular post on this blog is One-Point Preaching, a review of this book. Transitioning to one-point preaching has been the single most important change I’ve made during my leadership journey!

Next Generation Leader (Andy Stanley). This is one of my favorite books on leadership. Stanley is another must-read author! I haven’t written on this book but I blogged about a quote from it.

Choosing to Cheat (Andy Stanley). This is not specifically a leadership book but a topic leaders must address! See my first and second posts on this book.

The Present Future (Reggie McNeal). This is one of the most impacting books I’ve ever read—a must read for church leaders! See my post on this book.

The Barbarian Way (Erwin McManus). This is not specifically a leadership book, but one that leaders should read. See my post on this book.

An Unstoppable Force (Erwin McManus). Another great book by McManus. He writes about cultivation in this book, a topic I blogged about recently.

If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat (John Ortberg). This is not a leadership book but it’s for disciples, and leaders are disciples of Jesus Christ first. I think it’s worth reading everything Ortberg writes!

Leadership and Self-Deception (Arbinger Institute). We read this for two different classes at Asbury. It’s a must-read for leaders.

Spiritual Leadership (J. Oswald Sanders). This is a classic. I’m including it not so much because it’s a great book on leadership as much as how the chapter on prayer impacted me personally. See my post here.

The Leadership Challenge (James Kouzes and Barry Posner). This is a tremendous book, especially the section on “challenging the process.”

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (John Maxwell). There could easily be more books by John Maxwell on this list, but I’ve been influenced by Maxwell more than any other leader over the last twenty years so it’s impossible to know which resources I’ve been impacted by the most. This is a classic.

The Contemplative Pastor (Eugene Peterson). The only thing I remember about this book is one of the chapter titles—”Unbusy Pastor.” But I do remember being deeply impacted by this book, at the time. It would have been one of the early leadership books I read shortly after it was published in 1993 when I was working on an M.Div. Eugene Peterson is always challenging!

So, that’s my list. I write about other books from time to time. I hope you find them helpful!

What books have shaped you the most in your leadership journey?

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