If you’re a leader, people count on you. Coaches show players how to handle victory and defeat. Managers cultivate a productive yet safe work culture for employees. Parents welcome new human beings into the world, and show them how to navigate it. At its best, leadership isn’t just about getting results—it’s an act of high-stakes caregiving. And the books in this list will show you how to do it better than ever.
Our curators Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Cain, Daniel Pink, and Adam Grant pick two exciting reads per season to share with Next Big Idea Club members. The rankings below, however, are based on the most popular “Book Bite” audio summaries in the Next Big Idea App. In other words, they are 2023’s best leadership books, according to our tens of thousands of app users. So, if you’re ready to become a wiser, more empathetic, and more effective leader, check out the 25 remarkable titles below.
25. Gray Areas: How the Way We Work Perpetuates Racism & What We Can Do to Fix It
By Adia Harvey Wingfield
A leading sociologist reveals why racial inequality persists in the workplace despite today’s multi-billion-dollar diversity industry—and provides actional solutions for creating a truly equitable, multiracial future. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Adia Harvey Wingfield, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
24. All Pride, No Ego: A Queer Executive’s Journey to Living and Leading Authentically
By Jim Fielding
An essential resource for managers, executives, directors, and other business leaders, All Pride, No Ego will also earn a place on the bookshelves of young, aspiring leaders seeking practical and impactful strategies for real-world leadership. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Jim Fielding, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
23. The Empathy Advantage: Leading the Empowered Workforce
By Heather McGowan and Chris Shipley
Whether you are a seasoned executive or an emerging leader, The Empathy Advantage speaks to those who are ready to embrace a more influential and engaging form of leadership, especially those with responsibility for recruiting, engaging, and retaining talent. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by co-author Heather McGowan, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
22. Where Is My Office?: The Post-Pandemic Edition
By Chris Kane and Eugenia Anastassiou
This new follow-up edition of Where Is My Office? highlights some of the bold new frameworks and practical considerations for business leaders, workplace practitioners and those involved in commercial real estate as they navigate the complex post-pandemic working landscape. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by co-authors Chris Kane and Eugenia Anastassiou, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
21. Building a New Leadership Ladder: Transforming Male-Dominated Organizations to Support Women on the Rise
By Carol J. Geffner
More than a how-to guide on how women can ascend to the top, Building a New Leadership Ladder is a bold call to action for organizations and their leaders to proactively foster the conditions under which women’s efforts to rise up are consistently recognized and rewarded. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Carol J. Geffner, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
20. Culture Is the Way: How Leaders at Every Level Build an Organization for Speed, Impact, and Excellence
By Matt Mayberry
An essential roadmap to organizational transformation, Culture Is the Way will earn a place on the bookshelves of managers, executives, and other business leaders seeking to improve the performance of their team members. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Matt Mayberry, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
19. Head & Heart: The Art of Modern Leadership
By Kirstin Ferguson
Whether you are the head of one of the largest companies in the world, supervising a small team, or guiding your family, it will be your ability to integrate your head and heart that will influence your success in leading others and navigating our complex world. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Kirstin Ferguson, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
18. Credible: The Power of Expert Leaders
By Amanda Goodall
A leading business expert shows why expertise really matters, and how leaders who deeply understand the nuts and bolts of their organization make all the difference for its success and the happiness of people who work there. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Amanda Goodall, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
17. The Rise and Fall of the EAST: How Exams, Autocracy, Stability, and Technology Brought China Success, and Why They Might Lead to Its Decline
By Yasheng Huang
An MIT professor explores the long history of China’s relationship between stability, diversity, and prosperity, and how its current leadership threatens this delicate balance. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Yasheng Huang, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
16. Lead Like a Marine: Run Towards a Challenge, Assemble Your Fireteam, and Win Your Next Battle
By John Warren and John Thompson
Two decorated veterans lay out the simple, universal rules that helped them succeed, from valuing grit and potential over pedigree, to condensing large groups into resilient “fireteams,” to cross-training team members so that anyone can step up to the plate in a crisis. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by co-authors John Warren and John Thompson, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
15. Come Up for Air: How Teams Can Leverage Systems and Tools to Stop Drowning in Work
By Nick Sonnenberg
An acclaimed entrepreneur shares the CPR® Business Efficiency Framework, a proven system for leaders, managers, and teams to maximize their performance and reduce overwhelm by using the right tools in the right way, at the right time. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Nick Sonnenberg, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
14. Radical Inclusion: Seven Steps to Help You Create a More Just Workplace, Home, and World
From David Moinina Sengeh, Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education in Sierra Leone, comes a page-turning and deeply human story that gives a remarkable blueprint we can apply to our daily lives. Radical Inclusion features stories and anecdotes that show us specific techniques to make our homes, workplaces, and communities happier and more just places for everyone. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author David Moinina Sengeh, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
13. Beyond Disruption: Innovate and Achieve Growth without Displacing Industries, Companies, or Jobs
By W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne
A practical guide for driving innovation and growth, the rich research behind Beyond Disruption, coupled with its frame-breaking message, make it a must-read book for the next generation of innovators. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by co-author Renée Mauborgne, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
12. The Power Code: More Joy. Less Ego. Maximum Impact for Women (and Everyone)
By Katty Kay and Claire Shipman
Both a prescription for societal change and a professional guidebook for individual women, The Power Code shows you how to leverage the power you already have, find new sources of power in yourself and your community, and remodel your workplace and your home life. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by co-author Claire Shipman, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
11. Turnaround Time: Uniting an Airline and Its Employees in the Friendly Skies
By Oscar Munoz
With candor, humor, and heartfelt wisdom, a former United Airlines CEO reveals how he rose from humble immigrant origins to lead United through one of modern business’s greatest corporate turnarounds. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Oscar Munoz, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
10. Real-Time Leadership: Find Your Winning Moves When the Stakes Are High
By David Noble and Carol Kauffman
Two leadership coaching legends reveal their innovative new framework—MOVE—which equips you with the tactics you need to slow down high-stakes situations before they speed you up. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by co-author Carol Kauffman, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
9. Strategic: The Skill to Set Direction, Create Advantage, and Achieve Executive Excellence
By Rich Horwath
A bestselling author offers business leaders a proven framework―the Strategic Fitness System―containing dozens of tools, techniques, and checklists to confidently master every area of the business, from designing market-winning strategies to shaping the organization’s culture. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Rich Horwath, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
8. Good Power: Leading Positive Change in Our Lives, Work, and World
By Ginni Rometty
A former IBM CEO delivers a powerful combination of memoir, leadership lessons, and big ideas on how we can all drive meaningful change. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Ginni Rometty, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
7. Leading Through Disruption: A Changemaker’s Guide to Twenty-First Century Leadership
By Andrew Liveris
A former Chairman and CEO of The Dow Chemical Company presents a variety of powerful tools that will enable you to tackle any problem quickly and responsively, with an eye to creating a more equitable, sustainable future. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Andrew Liveris, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
6. Going on Offense: A Leader’s Playbook for Perpetual Innovation
By Behnam Tabrizi
Based on a comprehensive seven-year study from Stanford University, Going on Offense provides an insider view into the drivers of success and challenges in 26 organizations—including industry giants like Apple, Tesla, Amazon, Microsoft, and Starbucks—along with actionable advice for replicating their winning approaches. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Benham Tabrizi, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
5. Fast Forward: 5 Power Principles to Create the Life You Want in Just One Year
By Wendy Leshgold and Lisa McCarthy
Backed by psychological research and brain science, Fast Forward’s 5 Power Principles have helped more than 100,000 professionals achieve extraordinary success and happiness. And as they have excelled, so have their businesses and teams. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by co-author Wendy Leshgold, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
4. Power to the Middle: Why Managers Hold the Keys to the Future of Work
By Bill Schaninger, Bryan Hancock, and Emily Field
Three McKinsey thought leaders explain how middle managers are uniquely positioned close to the ground but with a crucial connection to company strategy, enabling them to guide their organizations through periods of rapid and complex change, as well as to help shape the new world of work. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by co-authors Bill Schaninger, Bryan Hancock, and Emily Field, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
3. The Anxious Achiever: Turn Your Biggest Fears into Your Leadership Superpower
By Morra Aarons-Mele
From an entrepreneur, mental health advocate, and top-rated podcaster comes a timely and compelling guide to managing the anxiety that comes with succeeding and leading. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Morra Aarons-Mele, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
2. 1% Leadership: Master the Small, Daily Improvements That Set Great Leaders Apart
By Andy Ellis
One of the most well-known and experienced cybersecurity leaders shares dozens of lessons and observations that anyone, at any stage of their career, can use to create a work culture of continuous improvement and strong leadership. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Andy Ellis, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
1. The Manager’s Handbook: Five Simple Steps to Build a Team, Stay Focused, Make Better Decisions, and Crush Your Competition
By David Dodson
A Stanford Graduate School of Business faculty member, serial entrepreneur, and investor in over 100 companies delivers an insightful work that describes, in highly practical detail, five skills every great manager needs to know if they want to get things done. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author David Dodson, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
The Key Ideas in 15 Minutes
“If you are going to get anywhere in life, you have to read a lot of books,” Roald Dahl once famously said. The only trouble is, reading even one book from cover to cover takes hours—and you may not have many hours to spare.
But imagine for a moment: What if you could read a groundbreaking new book every day? Or even better, what if you could invite a world-renowned thinker into your earbuds, where they personally describe the 5 key takeaways from their work in just 15 minutes?
With the Next Big Idea App, we’ve turned this fantasy into a reality. We partnered with hundreds of acclaimed authors to create “Book Bites,” short audio summaries of the latest nonfiction that are prepared and read aloud by the authors themselves. Discover cutting-edge leadership skills, productivity hacks, the science of happiness and well-being, and much more—all in the time it takes to drive to work or walk the dog.
Go Deeper with a Next Big Idea Club Membership
The Next Big Idea App is free for anyone to try—and if you love it, we invite you to become an official member of the Next Big Idea Club. Membership grants you unlimited access to Book Bites and unlocks early-release, ad-free episodes of our LinkedIn-partnered podcast. You also gain entry to our private online discussion group, where you can talk big ideas with fellow club members and join exclusive live Q&A sessions with featured authors.
For a more focused learning experience, we recommend a Hardcover or eBook Membership. Every few months, legendary authors and club curators Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Cain, Adam Grant, and Daniel Pink select two new nonfiction books as the must-reads of the season. We then send hardcover copies straight to your doorstep, or eBook versions to your favorite digital device. We also collaborate with the authors of selected books to produce original reading guides and premium video e-courses, 50-minute master classes that take you step by step through their most life-changing ideas. And yes, it’s all available through the Next Big Idea App.
Learn Faster, from the World’s Leading Thinkers
Whether you prefer to read, listen, or watch, the Next Big Idea is here to help you work smarter and live better. Wake up with an always-fresh Idea of the Day, the perfect shot of inspiration to go with your morning coffee. Then dive into one of our Challenges, hand-picked collections of Book Bites that form crash courses in subjects like communication, motivation, and career acceleration. Later, watch the playback of an interview with U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Stanford psychologist Jennifer Eberhardt, or philosopher John Kaag. And be sure to check the “Events” tab in the app, so that you can join an upcoming live Q&A and personally chat with the next featured thought leader.
If you’re hoping to grow as a person or as a professional, we hope you’ll join us and tens of thousands of others who enjoy the Next Big Idea. Get started by downloading the app today!
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