4 Must-Read Books By Women Leaders To Improve Your Leadership Skills

Although the leadership gender gap still exists, women are steadily moving into supervisory and executive roles. As of February 2024, research estimates that nearly three out of 10 revenue-producing managerial positions are held by women. This percentage may be low, but it shows some progress toward gender equality across the highest corporate ladder rungs. That’s exactly the kind of progress needed to move the needle on the gender earnings gap that persists.

Women deserve the opportunity to join the leadership world if that’s their goal. After all, they bring unique skill sets, insights, and experiences that can prove invaluable to any company. This isn’t just opinion, either. The American Psychological Association recently dove into the scientific studies supporting women’s leadership. The research indicated that when women were put in charge, businesses saw improvements in many areas, including performance, teamwork, and employee engagement through enhanced loyalty.

What’s the secret behind the innate power that women leaders bring to the table? To answer this and other questions, check out the inspiring and advice-packed books available from a few of today’s rising female superstars.

1. Amanda Hammett — How to Have Tough Conversations

Whether you’re a director, VP, or CEO, having uncomfortable discussions comes with the territory. However, knowing how to master “tough talk” isn’t always easy. In How to Have Tough Conversations, keynote speaker and acclaimed “millennial translator” Amanda Hammett breaks down how to tackle this aspect of leadership effectively and empathetically. She co-wrote the book with her husband, Gene Hammett, serving as a hands-on guide that offers practical, actionable advice for leaders.

This book is a lifesaver in the workplace, especially if you’ve been avoiding a difficult conversation with a colleague. As the co-authors point out, avoidance is a common problem—and it can be a costly one. The book shares a cautionary tale about the leader of a fast-growing organization who kept putting off a difficult discussion with a department head. His unwillingness to take immediate action ended up costing the company $250,000, all because he wasn’t confident about approaching tough discussions.

Even if you’re not one to hesitate when a red flag problem pops up, you may not be effectively communicating your message. In that case, Hammett’s book can be a huge asset. The book lays out specific communication ground rules, including how to meet others halfway and not assume their reactions or intentions.

2. Bonnie Hammer — 15 Lies Women Are Told at Work: … And the Truth We Need to Succeed

Bonnie Hammer has succeeded for decades in the hard-edged, male-favored entertainment industry. And she’s learned lots of lessons along the way. In 15 Lies Women Are Told at Work: … And the Truth We Need to Succeed, she invites female readers to discard the misconceptions they’ve been told about how to “make it” in business. Hammer asserts that the longer you hold onto the myths about rising up occupationally, the harder it will be to achieve your true potential.

A huge advantage to settling down with Hammer’s book is that you’ll get an extremely affordable taste of her masterclass sessions. In fact, with each chapter, you’ll be able to slowly reduce your reliance on antiquated leadership advice and replace it with Hammer’s proven practices.

Though Hammer writes with clarity and punch, she incorporates a lot of heart and humor into her work as well. Think of this book as your personal guide for moving into the leadership spot you dream about—without losing yourself in the web of workplace lies and half-truths women too frequently fall for.

3. Jemma Roedel — She Thinks Like a Boss

Do you want to become a boss but keep getting overlooked for advancement opportunities? You might not be giving off the “boss vibes” that say that you’re ready to take the reins. Well-regarded author Jemma Roedel has the answer: Learn to think and act like a leader so you’ll net interviews and eventually be promoted into leadership jobs.

Throughout She Thinks Like a Boss, Roedel introduces you to ways to navigate the world of boss-dom in a way that feels intuitive and gets results. She effectively explains methods to develop the characteristics and abilities that will help you stand out and snag promotions. If you’re already managing one or more direct reports, you’ll gain instant knowledge that can be applied right away to rev up your team.

Roedel uses a time-honored technique in her book: She first explores skills that other women leaders have leveraged to skyrocket into executive ranks. Then, she clearly shows you how you can do likewise.

4. Morra Aarons-Mele — The Anxious Achiever: Turn Your Biggest Fears into Your Leadership Superpower

Anxiety can sideline your career quickly, taking away your confidence in a heartbeat and leaving you feeling unable to take control of workplace situations. Podcasting celebrity and leadership guru Morra Aarons-Mele wants to help you reframe your anxiousness into an attribute. That’s why The Anxious Achiever: Turn Your Biggest Fears into Your Leadership Superpower focuses heavily on teaching you how to harness your anxiety in a way that gets you what you want.

Aarons-Mele begins by inviting you to discard everything you’ve been told about anxiety, including that it’s somehow abnormal. Most people feel anxious, including leaders. However, if you’re able to name your anxiety profile, you can start to recognize your triggers and instill healthier coping behaviors. Over time, being proactive will allow you to chip away at anxiety’s hold over you.

This doesn’t mean you’ll never feel anxious again, but you’ll have the tools to push forward as a competent, strong leader. Best of all, you may be able to become a supportive role model for other up-and-coming women leaders on your team who are being held down by their intuitive stress responses.

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