Books Every Emerging Leader Should Read


An emerging leader is someone who is beginning the leadership journey. They don’t have to be any type of age, gender, experience, race or anything else. Simply, they are a person who has found themselves in an space where they can intentionally and positively influence others toward a desired future.

One challenge every emerging leader faces, is what and who to read. So this list, The Top 20 Books Every Emerging Leader Should Read, is a resource for those of you starting out. I have attempted to put them in some kind of order that I’d recommend you read them in, if you’ve not read any. They start with the basics and build from there. Please feel free to share this list with anyone you think might be helped by it.


1. The Leadership Mandate by Dan Black

This eBook is an excellent introduction to what leadership is and how to establish yourself as a leader. Dan has been leading young leaders for a long time and understands leadership and the journey taken by emerging leaders.

2. The Anonymous Leader by Ralph Mayhew

The Anonymous Leader is written for emerging leaders to help establish them in the essentials of self leadership. Leadership greatness is not found in a leader’s ability to occupy a stage, but in their ability to allow Jesus to be seen on their platform.

3. Developing The Leader Within You by John C Maxwell

Aside from my book, which you’ve just read, this is the other first book you should read as an emerging leader. It covers all the basic skills you need as a leader to start making a difference, and is well reinforced with stories and quotes to make you think.

4. Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanley

Stanley writes this to set young leaders on a successful course of leadership. If you’re a young adult looking to lead well have a look at this. Covering five essential principles, the book will help you to create a strong foundation to begin leading from.

5. Honest To God? by Bill Hybels

This was the first book I read on integrity and was gripped and challenged by it. It helped form in me a foundation of integrity by exploring the extent integrity matters and invades all of our lives. If you are looking for a great book on who you are before God, and how that influences everything, this is for you.

6. You The Leader by Phil Pringle

Written from the heart of a Pastor this book is such a comprehensive dive into spiritual leadership from a pastoral dimension. It’s easy to read and full to the brim with wisdom.

7. The Catalyst Leader by Brad Lomenick

This book (the first of two leadership books Lomenick has written) is an easy read for those beginning leadership. Lomenick is one of the organisers of the Catalyst Conference and is well positioned and networked to write on leadership. He offers a helpful overview of what leadership is about and what to be aware of as a leader.

8. The Barbarian Way by Erwin McManus

Exploring the life of John the Baptist, McManus looks at how we can live with faith but without restraint. It’s a captivating, intriguing and short read, with creative insights and emotional appeal.

9. Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybels

I discuss this book in chapter 1. If prayer is not a strength for you, read this book. It will inspire and excite you about meeting with God every day and loving every minute of it. Hybels shares openly about his prayer journey and you will become more and more excited to pray as you read it.

10. Soul Cravings by Erwin McManus

This book is written to a secular audience to prove the existence and love of God without using the Bible. He speaks to issues of intimacy and destiny in a fresh and creative way. If you’re after a different read which you can use to talk with people yet to put their faith in Christ, have a look at this.

11. The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make by Hans Finzel

The title says it all as Eims explores ten mistakes ever leader can easily make. It covers the basics well, and doesn’t beat you up as a reader. Instead, it is warmly encouraging and challenging.

12. Leadership Axioms by Bill Hybels

Hybels brings together his best leadership lessons from over 30-plus years of leading, distilled into one line lessons. It’s a refreshing and insightful read that gives keen insight into how to lead with excellence.

13. Be The Leader You Were Meant To Be by LeRoy Eims

This book examines who you are as a leader and how to cultivate the traits of an effective leader. It is a call to excellence in leadership and a great book to read if you are just starting out as a leader.

14. The 21 Indispensable Qualities Of A Leader by John C Maxwell

This book piggy backed off John Maxwell’s Best Seller The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. In it he explores 21 essentials qualities every leader would be wise to fine tune in their leadership.

15. Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald

MacDonald is a master of self-leadership and has authored many books on the subject. This one is one of his earliest and finest. Reading it, you will be challenged and equipped to re-order your life in a healthy and life-giving way.

16. Soul Keeping by John Ortberg

This is both a tribute to Dallas Willard and a peaceful delve into what it means to keep your soul whole. Ortberg shares from his friendship with Willard and the profound impact Willard had on him. It is a wonderful read and great for replenishing your soul – read it slowly and deeply.

17. Getting Things Done by David Allen

This book provides its readers with a system to get everything done. It’s unlikely you’ll adopt every system he talks about into your life, but you will be benefitted tenfold the price of the book if you read it and adopt some of his strategies. It will absolutely help you get things done and become far more dependable and reliable.

18. Leading On Empty by Wayne Cordeiro

Speaking from his burnout experience, Cordeiro offers some very pastoral and wise insight to help every leader avoid the same fate. He outlines what happened to him, why it happened and what he should have done about it, as he seeks to encourage you to learn from his failings.

19. The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg

Ortberg seeks to make ancient spiritual disciplines as accessible as possible to everyone who would dare to lead. This would be a good entry-level book for someone looking to explore spiritual disciplines.

20. The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard

It’s a very small book and dead easy to read but offers with vivid clarity a very easy technique to bring encouragement and correction to those you work with. In fable style it’s an updated business classic and a book worth reading at some point.


Emerging Leaders This was the first book I ever read on leadership, Developing the Leaders Around You: How to Help Others Reach Their Full Potential. It changed everything for me! Every emerging leader needs to be encouraged to read. If you are an emerging leader, choose one, buy it and start reading. If you know an emerging leader, choose one and give it to them as a gift. They’ll be enormously grateful, I guarantee.

If you can think of any other books that should be on this list, please email me at , I’d love to know about them.