The Leadership Hall of Fame

We have spent a year looking at the most influential business books and authors. Here is a complete syllabus for an education in being a leader. Which are your favorites? And which leadership classics did we miss?

Getting Things Done

David Allen, Getting Things Done

"How Bad Plans And "Good Ideas" Ruin Meetings"



On Becoming A Leader

Warren Bennis, On Becoming A Leader

"Leadership Is About Taking The Long View"



The One Minute Manager

Ken Blanchard, The One Minute Manager

"The First Secret: One Minute Goals"



What Should I Do With My Life

Po Bronson, What Should I Do With My Life?

"Parasite Entrepreneurism"



First Break All The Rules

Marcus Buckingham, First, Break All The Rules

"Even In The Office, Casting Is Everything"



Reengineering the Corporation

James Champy, Reengineering The Corporation

"Why Companies Will Change Or Fail"



The Innovator's Dilemma

Clayton Christensen, The Innovators Dilemma

"Why Companies Fail to Innovate"



Good to Great

Jim Collins, Good to Great

"How To Create A Business Where The Truth Is Heard"



The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

"Using Empathic Listening to Collaborate"




• Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, Flow

"Reclaim Your Life, One Experience At A Time"



The Effective Executive

• Peter Drucker, The Effective Executive

"Who Is an Executive?"



Never Eat Alone

Keith Ferrazzi, Never Eat Alone

"The Art of Audacious Conversation"



The 4-Hour Workweek

Tim Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek

"Killing Your Job"



The Rise of the Creative Class

Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class

"Values of the Creative Class"



The Tipping Point

Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point

"On Connectors, Mavens, And Salesmen: How New Ideas Spread Like Seeds"



Purple Cow

Seth Godin, Purple Cow

"Better Business Through Changing Behavior"



What Got You Here, Won

Marshall Goldsmith, What Got You Here, Won't Get You There

"Goal Obsession: The Flaw That Creates More Flaws"



Made to Stick

Dan Heath and Chip Heath, Made to Stick

"How Do You Make Your Business Ideas Concrete? Look to Hamburger Helper"



Blue Ocean Strategy

W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, Blue Ocean Strategy

"Navigate Blue Oceans To Undiscovered Business Opportunities"



In Search of Excellence

Tom Peters, In Search of Excellence

"Walmart and HP: Founded on People Power"



Free Agent Nation

Daniel Pink, Free Agent Nation

"The First Rule Of Being Your Own Boss? Be Authentic."



The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid

• C.K. Prahalad, The Fortune At The Bottom Of The Pyramid

"The Fortune At The Bottom Of The Pyramid"



The Paradox of Choice

Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice

"The Paradox Of Expanded Choices: What Too Much Of A Good Thing Means For Consumers"



Practically radical

William C. Taylor, Practically Radical

"The Company as Community: Threadless Puts Everyone in Charge"



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  • rance mackey

    Great list, but would include Jack Welch "Winning" Mike Myatt, "Leadership Matters, and Bill George "True North"

  • Ryan Coonerty

    Good list but I would add Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains and Taylor Branch's series on MLK(for seeking societal change), Moneyball (for organizational change),  and Robert Caro's series on LBJ for raw power

  • LG

    A couple of additional: Leadership Without Easy Answers by Ronald Heifetz of Harvard's Kennedy School and Leadership Can Be Taught by Sharon Daloz Parks about how Heifetz teaches leadership.  White male authors dominating the business best sellers may say more about how the publishing industry works and who the business populi is willing to listen to than what is currently happening in terms of leadership in businesses and organizations. 

  • Derek Olivas

    "Man's Search for Meaning" - Viktor Frankl. Cuts to the bone to explain how vital attitude is to leadership.

    "Work Like Da Vinci" - Michael Gelb. Amazing audiobook read passionately by the author. Tap into the mind of one of history's greatest geniuses.

  • Pothetes

    Great list but how could you not have John Maxwell on it???!!!!!

    "The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership"  or "The Five Levels of Leadership"

  • John Smigielski

    How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie- still current despite being published 75 years ago.

  • Eleanor Biddulph

    Great list, a few titles I'm not familiar with, so I have some reading to do!  I would add a couple of excellent books on leadership as the highest form of service to others:
    "Greater Than Yourself" by Steve Farber - the ultimate calling of true leadership is to help others be the best they can be, even greater than the leader.
    "The Servant Leader" by James A. Autry - a terrific book on servant leadership in the workplace, without the strong religious thread that so many others incorporate.

  • Srinivasan

    That's a great list of books to have. I would also recommend "Winning" by Jack Welch. It is almost an encyclopedia of leadership lessons. Thanks, Srini

  • Lloyd Fassett

    All of these are data driven.  I've read most and they are good and true guides and high on my list.  

    However, management by the numbers is like creating an algorithm to write a song or a book.  The best management book is fable that takes 15 minutes to read:   
    "The Tale of The Unknown Island" by Jose Sarramago.It's about a poor guy who gathers the resources and crew to go in search of a new island when everyone knows that all the islands are already known.  There is also no punctuation in the book.  

    Because the journey is the reward.

  • Tameka

    Dear Mr. Ohannessian, I haven't read all of the books on this list and do not wish to detract from them in anyway. I'm not sure if you picked up on this, but almost every author on the list (except for one) is: 1) Male; and 2) White. I ask only that you consider the impact of this - it feels awfully one dimensional. The complexity of life in the modern world requires diverse and well rounded views on leadership and different global perspectives. Fast Company, you are short changing yourself and your readership by primarily endorsing only one gender/race perspective on Leadership, and ensuring the survival of the Old Boys Club. I think you can do better.

  • Kevin Ohannessian

    It is an unfortunate thing that the most influential business books are mostly from white men. I think for a long time American business was an Old Boys Club. I would say it is only in the last 25 years or so that has been changing. I did a separate list of best business autobiographies, and that has some women at least:

  • Michael McKinney

    From the standpoint of leadership principles—which most of
    these books expound on—they are not gender or race specific and consequently it
    doesn’t really matter who wrote them. Each gender must learn to adapt them not
    just in regard to their specific gender, but more importantly to their
    character, strengths and weaknesses and leadership context. Also, we all have
    issues to deal with regardless of any category we might find ourselves in. Although
    a male leader may share experiences they have had, it would not be prudent to
    simply adopt their approach wholesale without reflecting who you are as a
    leader—male or female—and your core values.

  • Rolando Peralta

    A very complete list. I've almost read all of them, but I've been missing a couple.

  • Christine Comaford

    RE missed leadership classics. My book on leadership was a 2007 New York Times Bestseller.

    Rules for Renegades: How to Make More Money, Rock Your Career, and Revel in Your Individuality

  • W.T. "Bill" McKibben

    Buffett's Bites, L.J. Rittenhouse distills years of wisdom from Warren Buffett's shareholder letters. It's an investors master course in one easy afternoon's read.

  • W.T. "Bill" McKibben

    Two of the best ever: Pyramids Are Tombs, by Joe Phelps, makes the case for collaborative management, and Firms of Endearment by, David Wolfe, that makes the case for the ethical business model.

    "Bill" McKibben ~

    The Great Lakes

    3455 Warner Dr ~ Buffalo NY 14072-1043

    LL 716.883.4695 ~ Toll Free

    Mobile 716.998.9848 ~ Skype

    http://ethics-central.blogspot...                                             © 2011 GLG


  • Jack Pyle

    One of my favorites is an older one: Leadership Effectiveness Training by Thomas Gordon. I believe Gordon is one of the most influential thinkers on the
    topic of working well with others. His "No-Lose" method was later
    re-invented as the "Win-Win" method of problem solving. Learning
    his active listening method and using it for the past 40 years has been
    the most valuable tool I've had in becoming a successful parent,
    spouse and business person. I've solved many problems by doing nothing
    except listen to others. I've also mediated many crisis situations for
    global companies and health organizations by teaching and using active
    listening with those involved in the conflicts.