5 Must-read Leadership Books for Women Leaders

We bring you a list of books that women entrepreneurs must read to find the right balance between leadership and ownership of self. The leadership books for women draw on self experiences, tackle stereotypes, fly in the face of patriarchy, give sensitive and empathetic advice, and an ability to see the lighter side of their struggles.

Gender equality is a good concept to bandy about in politically correct forums, but in the real world, women have to fight that bit harder to get any privileges that their male counterparts take for granted. The same goes for women in leadership roles.

Leadership qualities are not gender-based but rather on your personality traits, strengths, and superior intellect. However, women are not encouraged to take up leadership roles as often as their male counterparts.

Leadership Books for Women

Only 37 Fortune 500 Companies are led by women. One reason given is the way women see leadership roles vs men. Women are driven more by intrinsic motivations about work, rather than what their jobs or employers demand from them.

Books for successful women entrepreneurs

Leadership Books for Women

Women view work more holistically, as a component of their overall life plan. A survey of executives found that women view leaders as those who share their knowledge and connect with their colleagues to help the team and the business.

Such an attitude makes women stronger and capable of bearing leadership roles, but the burden of tradition is stronger than merit still.

Here we bring you a list of 5 must-read books for Women Entrepreneurs and leaders:

Leadership Books for Women Leaders

The Obstacle is the Way
by Ryan Holiday

No path to success is free from pitfalls as any entrepreneur or executive will tell you. This leadership book for women also talks of persistence and taking failure in your stride and not giving up.

These are commonplace advice but something that one needs to be reminded of. For the CEO and founder of Base Culture, Jordann Windschauer, this read helped her realize the vast importance of the journey, even if you have a fair share of fender benders. “Prior to reading this book, I perceived challenges or failure as something to avoid. Now I understand that it’s only through these troubling times that growth and success are found,” she explains. “What’s radical is that it applies equally to life and business. If we don’t allow ourselves to face obstacles with fear of failure, we would remain stuck, rather than learning, revising, and growing.”

Holiday says there are three paths to overcoming any failures and difficulties in life — 1) perception, 2) action, 3) will.

Obstacles are to be expected AND embraced because they are opportunities to test ourselves, try new things, and triumph!

How to Success in Business Without A Penis: Secrets and Strategies for the Working Woman 
by Karen Salmansohn 

Written by an ex-advertising executive, Karen Salmansohn, it gives humorous advice to women struggling for success in business. She recommends that women learn how to balance their inherently female qualities with what are perceived as traditional male advantages. Salmansohn claims that a blend of the best of both gender qualities will give women an advantage to compete with men in the workplace. Considering that the wage gap is still a reality even almost 15 plus years after the book’s publication, being aggressive about one’s rights and privileges is not misplaced.

Understanding how to negotiate salaries, asking for the designation you deserve, and building your confidence in meetings are all relevant and timeless tasks for many females. The president of the NYC Chapter of the National Organization of Women Sonia Ossorio, says this book is a must-read. “Women gaining more power to lead, green-light projects, and innovate does not come at the expense of men. In fact, women at the table make more successful businesses. This book gives you straight, practical liveable advice about how to navigate the workplace, put your best self forward and maintain your resilience, creativity, poise, and humor.”

Feminists and sticklers for correctness at all costs may decry some of the tactics suggested, but all is fair in the boardroom wars.

Leading From the Front: No-Excuse Leadership Tactics for Women”
by Angie Morgan and Courtney Lynch

This book is written by two women entrepreneurs who served in the United States Marine Corps and became entrepreneurs. Who better than these two to give advice on how to move forward in a men’s world as they draw upon their experience in the male-dominated Marines, making it one of the best leadership books for new female managers in male-dominated office spaces.

They say, what women entrepreneurs lack is formal training in leadership. They lack the advantage men have of learning to be decisive from a young age. Women aren’t expected to or are not taught to be decisive, commanding, and ready to take risks.

Morgan and Lynch deliver 10 key practices to becoming a powerful leader. Think fast on your feet, Stop making excuses, Take care of your team (so they’ll take care of you), Respond without overreacting, Stay cool while dealing with crises, Have the courage to achieve your goals are some of the tips given in the book to attain leadership roles.

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

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg hit the bestseller list with this book in 2013. This book was the result of a TED talk that Sandberg gave about how women unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers, and she provides ample proof in the book backing up that claim. It followed a personal tragedy that she suffered and how people’s support helped her see it through.

“Lean In” is a book that gives personal examples interspersed with professional advice backed by data.

This book is about showing women what they can achieve. The emphasis is on go for what you want to achieve but do not hold back and ask for help as and when needed. She says you can’t build a corporate career or small business on your own—you need help from your family, colleagues, and friends, same as a family needs the community to flourish.

Leadership Books for Women Entrepreneurs

“Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers”
by Lois P. Frankel

Author Lois P. Frankel is the founder and CEO of Corporate Coaching International. The book advises women to handle the issues of don’ts in one’s life, or what cannot one do. If not, women leaders may make unconscious mistakes that sabotage their path to success. Frankel notes 101 unique behavior patterns women have learned in childhood that can end up hurting their careers—and ways to break those patterns.

Some of the ingrained behavior that is a pattern with most women is holding back, not being comfortable as the most capable or skilled in the room, smiling too much, wanting to be liked and appreciated, looking at bosses as father figures, being too attuned to authoritative figures, and more.

The author offers invaluable coaching tips to overcome this ingrained behavior in women, which you can easily incorporate into your social and business skills. But first recognize and change the behaviors that say “girl” not “woman”,

Own It: The Power of Women at Work
by Sallie Krawcheck

Former Wall Street powerhouse-turned entrepreneur Sallie Krawcheck, says the world is changing – and fast. In fact, we are on the brink of what Krawcheck calls the Fourth Wave of feminism, one that will usher in unprecedented opportunities for women in business.

According to her, the direction that the business world is moving into is where communication and collaboration rule the day – these skills and qualities needed for success are ones that women inherently possess.

She draws on her own experiences to show how women can tap into this growing power. There are tips on getting a raise, to new takes on networking and mentoring, to navigating career breaks, and avoiding the biggest career mistake that most women don’t know they are making.

She believes the women now have the great opportunity to change the workplace rules to suit themselves. They can initiate conversations about greater flexibility, diversity, neutrality, and innovative ways of thinking, away from the traditional patriarchal way of looking at things.

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Diana Coker
Diana Coker
Diana Coker is a staff writer at The HR Digest, based in New York. She also reports for brands like Technowize. Diana covers HR news, corporate culture, employee benefits, compensation, and leadership. She loves writing HR success stories of individuals who inspire the world. She’s keen on political science and entertains her readers by covering usual workplace tactics.

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