The Top 15 Leadership Books for Women in 2024

Alexa Green
December 20, 2023 | 10 mins

Leadership books for women have their work cut out for them. (Much like women in leadership.)

A book about leadership for women doesn’t just have to cover how to manage the people who work for you. It must also include how to manage the people who work with you. Women have made tremendous strides in leadership, but the gender gap at work still makes it harder to get into leadership as a woman. The best thing we can do is learn about other women’s experiences in leadership. Learning from each other’s mistakes and welcoming their wisdom makes everyone stronger. 


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How we ranked these leadership books for women

We researched over 50 books to put together this list, including the 15 most well-loved, wisdom-packed gems ever written … so far.

There were so many ways we could have organized this list. Best books for women in leadership, women trying to get into leadership, women under 30, women over 30, women of color, queer women, women with kids, the list just goes on and on. Every woman has a totally unique path to leadership and a unique style. The books on this list are just a starting point for the wealth of help, empathy, and wisdom available for women in leadership. 

Women entering the workforce now face a different set of challenges from our foremothers in the 1950s and ‘60s. For one thing, we stand a higher chance of making it into leadership. Unfortunately, we’re also held to a different, higher set of standards once we’re there. The leadership books for women we selected for this list are a diverse rainbow of stories, to highlight how resilient and flexible women in leadership truly are.

Since we couldn’t possibly pick favorites within this list, we’ve organized it from shortest to longest. Whether you can commit to reading a 13-hour-long tome or only have time for a bite-sized 4-hour-long paperback, you can become a better leader.

1. The Little Black Book of Success: Laws of Leadership for Black Women

By: Elaine Meryl Brown, Marsha Haygood, & Rhonda Joy McLean
Read Time: 4 hours

Top Leadership Books For Women: The Little Black Book Of Success: Laws Of Leadership For Black Women - Ranked By Selfpublishing.com

Written for black women, by black women, The Little Black Book of Success inspires and comforts, all while providing important insight into the challenges black women face in the workforce. The best leadership books for women acknowledge that our differences make us strong, and The Little Black Book of Success does this through the lived experience of its authors. The three sisters remind readers: 

“Good leaders need a variety of leadership styles to be successful. There is no one way to manage a team. However, to learn the style that will work best in any given situation takes knowing yourself as well as the individuals you're working with.”

2. I Wish I’d Known This: 6 Career-Accelerating Secrets for Women Leaders

By: Brenda Wensil and Kathryn Heath
Read time: 5 hours

Top Leadership Books For Women: I Wish I'D Known This: 6 Career-Accelerating Secrets For Women Leaders - Ranked By Selfpublishing.com

Leadership books for women that hold practical advice are goldmines, and I Wish I’d Known This is no exception. This no-nonsense guide outlines navigating six of the most common challenges women in leadership face. When you’re first trying to get into leadership, you need to know your blind spots. The authors remind you to stay grounded throughout the book, packing big wisdom into the tiniest reminders: 

“Few things are more advantageous for women than knowing their strengths and where they stand.” 

3. The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

By: Lolly Daskal
Read time: 6 hours

Top Leadership Books For Women: The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You And Your Greatness - Ranked By Selfpublishing.com

The direct style and actionable tips in The Leadership Gap make it one of the leadership books for women that’s a must-read for leaders at every level. Lolly Daskal walks through seven archetypes of leadership and the gaps that prevent them from growing. This is one of the best books for women in leadership, partially because Lolly acknowledges that leaders exist in organizations of every size. She also takes the time to consistently remind readers: 

“Leadership is not only for a few people, leadership is for everyone and anyone who wants to lead.”

4. Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House

By: Alyssa Mastromonaco
Read time: 6 hours

Top Leadership Books For Women: Who Thought This Was A Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers To When You Work In The White House - Ranked By Selfpublishing.com

While not one of the most traditional leadership books for women, Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? still contains plenty of food for thought. Alyssa Mastromonaco was the former deputy chief of staff to former US President Barack Obama, and she relays that experience with humor and wit. Through her lighthearted writing, she still shares valuable perspective about what working with a president was like: 

“What you realize is that everyone has her own priorities—her own constituency. Often, being a leader is not about making grand proclamations or telling people what to do; it’s about balancing all these priorities and constituencies.”

5. Women and Leadership: Real Lives, Real Lessons

By: Julia Gillard & Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Read time: 6 hours

Top Leadership Books For Women: 5. Women And Leadership: Real Lives, Real Lessons - Ranked By Selfpublishing.com

Many women aren’t just looking to the corporate boardrooms for leadership. Women and Leadership is one of the best leadership books for women who are looking to get a start in political leadership. Each of the authors brings a powerful perspective, and they’re joined by women in different political positions from all over the world. And as the authors note, women must be in leadership because: 

“In a democracy, a population should be able to look at its leaders and see a reflection of the full diversity of society. What kind of democracy is it that bestows a vote but not a real prospect of becoming the person voted for?”

6. The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance – What Women Should Know

By: Katty Kay & Claire Shipman
Read time: 7 hours

Top Leadership Books For Women: The Confidence Code: The Science And Art Of Self-Assurance – What Women Should Know - Ranked By Selfpublishing.com

Feeling like the biggest thing holding you back is yourself? You’re probably right. The Confidence Code dives into the science and experiences surrounding how women’s confidence in the workforce weighs us down. Like many leadership books for women, it reminds readers that the leadership gap isn’t a question of skill or desire:

“It isn’t that women don’t have the ability to succeed; it’s that we don’t seem to believe we can succeed, and that stops us from even trying.”

7. The Likeability Trap: How to Break Free and Succeed as You Are

By: Alicia Menendez 
Read time: 7 hours

Top Leadership Books For Women: The Likeability Trap: How To Break Free And Succeed As You Are - Ranked By Selfpublishing.com

Not all leadership books for women have to include actionable tips. Its raw emotion and crystal-clear look at the workforce are what endear The Likeability Trap to many of its readers. This book is a compilation of statistics, stories, and real-world case studies that highlight women’s mistreatment in the workforce across the years. And as Alicia reminds readers in her book: 

“Here is the good news: you are not alone! If it feels hard to navigate these questions of what it means to be a woman, to lead, and to be liked as you, it’s because it is!”

8. The Most Powerful Woman in the Room Is You: Command an Audience and Sell Your Way to Success 

By: Lydia Fenet
Read time: 7 hours

Top Leadership Books For Women: 8. The Most Powerful Woman In The Room Is You: Command An Audience And Sell Your Way To Success  - Ranked By Selfpublishing.com

The dynamic storytelling of The Most Powerful Woman in the Room Is You makes this one of the most engaging and insightful leadership books for women. Lydia Fenet reveals what led her towards leadership, and how her natural talent with others formed her style:

“The Most Powerful Woman in the Room is an information seeker, a connector of people, and she is constantly listening to the advice of other women in her life. Sometimes all she needs is a forum to share her ideas and learn from others. So be the one who steps forward and invites everyone into a place where support and encouragement is the name of the game.”

9. Own It: The Power of Women at Work

By: Sallie Krawcheck 
Read time: 7 hours

Top Leadership Books For Women: 9. Own It: The Power Of Women At Work - Ranked By Selfpublishing.com

Wall Street is famously male-dominated, maybe more than anywhere in the business world. Own It details the author’s experiences as a woman on Wall Street, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Despite being written about an industry that’s a known “boys’ club”, this is one of the best leadership books for women who want to lead without sacrificing their femininity. Sallie encourages women to pursue leadership positions, but she doesn’t stop there:

“I would further argue that our businesses and economy don’t just need more women in the workplace and in leadership positions and starting businesses (though we do). We need more women acting more like women”

10. Dare to Lead

By: Brené Brown
Read time: 8 hours

Top Leadership Books For Women: Dare To Lead - Ranked By Selfpublishing.com

This book found its way onto every single list of recommendations we found. Packed with relatable vulnerability and inspiring insights, Dare to Lead becomes an instant favorite for nearly everyone who reads it. One of the most unique things about its place within leadership books for women is the all-inclusive definition Brené gives for leadership:

“I define a leader as anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.”

11. The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You

By: Julie Zhou
Read time: 8 hours

Top Leadership Books For Women: The Making Of A Manager: What To Do When Everyone Looks To You - Ranked By Selfpublishing.com

What would you do if you were suddenly a VP? Cheeky, humble, and full of insight into the tech management world, The Making of a Manager follows the leadership journey of Julie Zhou from the new kid on the block to the VP of Facebook. Julie explores how to tell the difference between an average manager and an exceptional one. While it's one of the most unique situations depicted in leadership books for women, The Making of a Manager helps you understand exactly how to be an exceptional manager by getting to the heart of what management is: 

“It is the belief that a team of people can achieve more than a single person going it alone. It is the realization that you don’t have to do everything yourself, be the best at everything yourself, or even know how to do everything yourself. Your job, as a manager, is to get better outcomes from a group of people working together.”

12. That’s What She Said: What Men Need to Know (and Women Need to Tell Them) About Working Together

By: Joanne Lipman
Read time: 9 hours

Top Leadership Books For Women: That’s What She Said: What Men Need To Know (And Women Need To Tell Them) About Working Together - Ranked By Selfpublishing.com

Joanne Lipman expertly interweaves data with stories of real workplaces, including her own. That’s What She Said captures the uphill battle of communication in the workforce. This book belongs on lists of leadership books for women and men alike. That’s What She Said is one of the best books for women in leadership positions currently. It’s full of gems that remind leaders to keep learning, since: 

“You can't get rid of your own unconscious bias, no matter how hard you try. Scientists have investigated all sorts of interventions, without success.”

13. More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are

By: Elaine Welteroth
Read time: 11 hours

Top Leadership Books For Women: More Than Enough: Claiming Space For Who You Are - Ranked By Selfpublishing.com

A memoir written by a mixed-race woman navigating the exclusive world of fashion magazines, More Than Enough is full of advice for women that spans far beyond traditional leadership. You can feel Elaine Welteroth’s unique, passionate energy shining through the pages. One of the leadership books for women that touches on more than just career, Elaine reminds women that:

“Our lives are a series of dreams realized. We don't say that enough… The truth is, job titles are temporary but purpose is infinite.”

14. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

By: Susan Cain
Read time: 11 hours

Top Leadership Books For Women: Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can'T Stop Talking - Ranked By Selfpublishing.com

You don’t have to be a “power-suit, pay-attention-to-me” kind of woman to lead. In Quiet, Susan Cain explores decades of research indicating that introverts are overlooked powerhouses. Many leadership books for women focus on speaking up, but Quiet speaks to those who would rather show than tell. As Susan passionately reminds readers: 

“The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some, it's a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk. Use your natural powers — of persistence, concentration, and insight — to do work you love and work that matters. Solve problems. make art, think deeply.”

15. My Own Words

By: Ruth Bader Ginsberg
Read time: 13 hours

Top Leadership Books For Women: My Own Words - Ranked By Selfpublishing.com

Another divergence from the corporate leadership world, Ruth Bader Ginsberg is undeniably a trailblazer. My Own Words is a collection of speeches, essays, and writings from Justice Ginsberg throughout her life, from as early as eighth grade. My Own Words isn’t a rulebook or a scientific inquiry, but it’s still full of potent wisdom and hope for the future, making it one of the most indispensable leadership books for women. Justice Ginsberg believed that we are only at the beginning of women in leadership, because:

“As women achieve power, the barriers will fall. As society sees what women can do, as women see what women can do, there will be more women out there doing things, and we’ll all be better off for it.”

Related: The Best 35 Self-Help Books for Women


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Powerful books for women in leadership 

The best books for women in leadership cover a wide range of topics and experiences. What one person finds inspiring and helpful in a leadership book, another might find cliché or unnecessary. There are as many paths to leadership as there are women in leadership, with topics for every step of the journey.

Many of the best leadership books for women haven’t been written yet, as the landscape for women in the workforce is continually shifting. 

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