January 23, 2023

The 11 Best Books for Leaders to Read in 2023

As we enter 2023, it’s a great time for leaders to start thinking about the best books they can read this year. Knowledge and wisdom don’t often come in 280 characters. They’re much more likely to come in 280 pages, give or take a few.

So if you’re interested in innovation, transformation, and helping your organization remain irreplaceable to your customers for years into the future, there are plenty of great books out there that can help you do just that.

Here are our top 11 picks for the best books for leaders to read in 2023:

  1. The Innovator’s Dilemma
    by Clayton Christensen
    This classic business book explores the concept of disruptive innovation and how companies can avoid being disrupted by newer, smaller competitors. It’s especially relevant in today’s world, where the expected life-span of a company on the S&P 500 shrunk from 61 years in 1958 to under 18 years in 2016.
  2. The Lean Startup
    by Eric Ries
    The Lean Startup is all about how to build and grow successful products and businesses in the face of uncertainty. Eric introduces the concept of the “lean startup,” which emphasizes rapid experimentation and iteration. It’s hard to overstate how fundamentally this book has changed how organizations of all shapes and sizes think about new product development.
  3. Seeing Around Corners
    by Rita Gunther McGrath
    One of the key ideas in the book is the concept of “inflection points.” These are moments of significant change or disruption that can have a major impact on a business or industry. Dr. McGrath writes that these inflection points are becoming more frequent and harder to predict, and that traditional approaches to strategy and planning are often inadequate for navigating them. She offers a set of tools and frameworks that can be used to identify and evaluate potential disruptions. She also provides practical advice on how to build organizational resilience and agility, and how to foster a culture of innovation and experimentation.
  4. The Fourth Industrial Revolution
    by Klaus Schwab
    Klaus explores the ways in which emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and biotechnology are transforming the world of business and society as a whole. Schwab is the Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, which gives him unique perspective into why this industrial revolution will be radically different from those that have preceded it.
  5. Creative Confidence
    by Tom Kelley and David Kelley
    This book, written by the founders of the design firm IDEO, is all about how to tap into your own creativity and use it to drive innovation and change. It’s a great read for anyone who’s looking to break through the idea that they aren’t creative or that creative work belongs only to a certain set of people. The reality is that we’re all inherently creative, sometimes we just need a reminder on how to access our own creativity.
  6. The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders, and Create a Competitive Organization
    by Jacob Morgan
    Jacob explores how businesses can adapt to the changing landscape of work and stay ahead of the curve. This is a highly timely read because of the massive changes we’ve seen in the workforce in recent years. Attracting and retaining talent will continue to be a big challenge for many companies; 85% of US hiring managers expect challenges hiring this year according to one recent report.
  7. Continuous Discovery Habits
    by Teresa Torres
    Teresa writes and speaks often about the power of continuous discovery and how the “product trio,” comprised of a Product Manager, Tech Lead, and Design Lead, are changing product development for the better. Her book teaches readers how to use artifacts like opportunity maps, opportunity solution trees, customer interviews, and assumption tests to accelerate the development process and create more value for both customers and your business. This is a must-read for any product leaders or practitioners.
  8. The Innovator’s Mindset
    by George Couros
    In this book, George encourages readers to embrace a growth mindset and to be open to new ideas and approaches. He also offers practical strategies for cultivating an innovative culture in schools and organizations. Couros summarizes his approach as the, “Belief that abilities, intelligence, and talents are developed, leading to the creation of new and better ideas.” It’s tough to overstate the importance of any organization believing in creating a culture where a growth mindset takes root.
  9. The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future
    by Kevin Kelly
    The Inevitable takes readers on a deep dive into the technologies that will shape the world of the future, and how we can prepare for and embrace them. A common refrain that we hear on our podcast and in talking with customers is that innovation and transformation are more about people than they are about technology. While this is something we also inherently believe, technology undeniably will play a major part in shaping our future (see our recommendation for The Fourth Industrial Revolution above). Having people who know what to do with technology, or increasingly alongside technology, is now an imperative.
  10. Empowered: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products
    by Marty Cagan
    Empowered is a guide for product managers and designers on how to build innovative products that customers love. One key theme in Empowered is the importance of creating a culture of experimentation and learning. Marty advocates for a “test and learn” approach, where teams are encouraged to rapidly prototype and iterate on their ideas, and to use data and feedback from users to inform their decisions. He also emphasizes the importance of having a clear vision and strategy, and of using data and metrics to track progress and measure success.
  11. Making Conversation
    by Fred Dust
    For all the in-roads technology has made in our lives, conversation is still at the root of most human interactions. Fred’s book gives us guardrails and guidelines to have more successful conversations where both sides feel heard AND where some kind of forward momentum is established and agreed upon. Just because it’s a noisy world out there doesn’t mean we have to shout over one another to be heard. This book gives readers 7 essentials for impactful conversations.

Whether you’re a leader, an entrepreneur, or someone who’s simply looking to elevate your game in 2023, these books are sure to provide valuable insights and ideas that you can put into practice in your own life and work. Put down the phone, and pick up one of these 11 books. We think you’ll thank us when you polish one or more of them off.