23 Inspiring Books For Leaders to Level Up Their Skills In Summer 2023

Radical Candor
15 min readJul 6, 2023


A person reading a book about management.

By Katie Bartlett

Summer is the season for growth and exploration. And, there’s no better time to embark on a journey of personal and professional development and level up your leadership with these 23 books for leaders to read in summer 2023.

Whether you’re spending your summer days at the beach, by the pool or at home, we’ve put together a diverse list of books ideal for any leader hoping to grow their skills.

2023’s best summer reads to help you become a better manager will spark inspiration and offer new perspectives and insights into how to manage a team and create a workplace people actually enjoy.

1. The Souls of Queer Folk: How Understanding LGBTQ+ Culture Can Transform Your Leadership Practice

By Joel Davis Brown

In an era where we are increasingly recognizing the value and untapped potential within underrepresented communities, we have the opportunity to reimagine our workplaces and how we lead them.

Drawing upon his own research, educator and activist Dr. Joel Davis Brown reveals how LGBTQ+ values and culture can serve as a groundbreaking framework for leaders in every industry.

Every employee deserves to reach their full potential and take pride in who they are. The Queer wisdom Brown offers can help you ensure you are empowering every person you lead.

Buy the book >>

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2. What Is It Costing You Not to Listen? The Power of Understanding to Connect, Influence, Solve & Sell

By Christine Miles

Poor listening is the root of many of life’s problems, both in and out of the workplace.

In What is it Costing You Not to Listen?, Christine Miles uses her years of experience helping individuals and organizations transform their leadership to help you reexamine how you’re listening.

Miles’ approach will help you develop the trust with employees that is necessary for helping them solve problems, manage conflict, stay engaged and empower one another.

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3. The Heart of Fear:​​ A Surgeon’s Collection of Stories on Adversity, Passion and Perseverance

By Alexandra Kharazi, M.D.

Fear can hold you back but it can also be a powerful catalyst for growth and transformation.

Dr. Alexandra Kharazi conducts interviews with professionals across a variety of high-stress and high-risk fields, from medicine to skydiving to stunt driving, to explore the internal conflicts and fears they share as well as their methods for overcoming them.

Kharazi offers insight into how to navigate fear so that it does not stop you from leading effectively and achieving your goals.

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4. The Power Code: More Joy. Less Ego. Maximum Impact for Women (and Everyone).

By Katty Kay, Claire Shipman

New York Times bestselling authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman are on a mission to reclaim power for women.

In the wake of sweeping changes in the way we work, the veteran journalists challenge pre­conceived notions of what power is and what it’s good for, along with the insidious, mostly hidden structures of the status quo that hold women back.

Writing from their own lived experiences, Kay and Shipman interviewed dozens of women of all ages, races, and backgrounds around the world, as well as cutting-edge academic researchers.

Taken together, these per­spectives offer a clear-eyed and hopeful redesign of the workplace and our relationships at home, one that puts women in a remade and modernized seat of power.

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5. The Culture Advantage: Empowering Your People to Drive Innovation

By Daniel Strode

Innovation isn’t driven by business structure or budget but by your team.

Culture evangelist Daniele Strode draws upon historically innovative businesses — including Walt Disney and LEGO — to teach you how to evaluate and evolve your business model and leadership to enhance adaptability and longevity.

The Culture Advantage is a map for how to create, incorporate and sustain a workplace culture infused with innovation.

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6. Closing the Confidence Gap: Boost Your Peace, Your Potential, and Your Paycheck

By Kelli Thompson

It’s no wonder that so many women undervalue themselves and their skills: Imposter syndrome, combined with systemic gender inequity, can make it extremely difficult for them to go after what they really want at work.

To close the confidence gap, women need to be able to fill their highest potential.

Through Closing the Confidence Gap, Kelli Thompson will help you find your confidence and navigate the systemic issues that impact women in the workplace.

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7. STFU: The Power of Keeping Your Mouth Shut in an Endlessly Noisy World

By Dan Lyons

Our world is loud. No doubt, we’re conditioned to believe that the person who gets the last word in will end up on top.

But in reality, those who are capable of staying silent and listening hold real power. Dan Lyons combines behavioral science with tangible advice to teach you how to unleash this power within yourself.

STFU will aid you in becoming more in tune with the people and world around you, whether it be at the office, at home or online.

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8. Lead Upwards: How Startup Joiners Can Impact New Ventures, Build Amazing Careers, and Inspire Great Teams

By Sarah E. Brown

Drawing on over a decade of experience scaling SaaS companies, startup marketing leader Sarah E. Brown runs through every step of realizing your goals and sustaining a healthy team culture through your first 90 days holding an executive role.

A must-read for current and aspiring executive leaders at startup firms, Lead Upwards is your guide to preparing for, earning and making an impact as a leader.

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9. It Pays to PLAY: How Play Improves Business Culture

By Kristi Herold

The “all work and no play” mindset makes for not only a boring work environment but also a costly one.

Opportunities to connect playfully and build friendships benefit employees both physically and emotionally, which translates into a more engaged and innovative workplace.

Play is easy and affordable to implement, no matter your industry. Kristi Herold offers a wide bandwidth of ideas for bringing fun into work.

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10. Win When They Say You Won’t: Break Through Barriers and Keep Leveling Up Your Success

By Daphne Jones

Daphne Jones’s career counselor told her that Black women should go to secretarial school, not college.

While she took his advice, she ultimately defied the expectations set for her, rising to the top of the male-dominated STEM field and holding corporate board positions at a number of Fortune 500 companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and General Electric.

Her success came from her mindset: She believed she could win, even when she was told it was impossible.

In Win When They Say You Won’t , Jones shares her actionable system to help you overcome the negativity and impostor syndrome that may be holding you back from achieving your dreams.

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11. Something Major: The New Playbook for Women at Work

By Randi Braun

Women are natural leaders, but they’ve been taught to lead in outdated ways that weren’t designed with women in mind.

Certified Executive Coach Randi Braun took it upon herself to write them a new set of rules empowering women at work to chart their own course to the top — dialing up confidence and fulfillment, and dialing down burnout in the process.

Something Major is the book for any woman aiming to play the leadership game on her own terms.

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12. Autonomous Transformation: Creating a More Human Future in the Era of Artificial Intelligence

By Brian Evergreen

For better or for worse, we are in the middle of a moment of unprecedented change driven by technology.

Technologist and strategist Brian Evergreen offers a guide for keeping the workplace human amid the ever-changing digital landscape.

Ideal for executives, managers and other business leaders, Autonomous Transformation will help leaders navigate the increasingly complex digital world and harness the power of technology to better their organization.

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13. Seeing Others: How Recognition Works―and How It Can Heal a Divided World

By Michèle Lamont

Recognizing — and in turn valuing — employees from all backgrounds is essential as we live through an age of growing inequality.

So, Michéle Lamont draws on nearly 40 years of research and interviews with young adults, from Nikole Hannah to Roxane Gay, to aid readers in creating a culture of respect where everyone can assert their dignity.

Seeing Others offers hope and a solution: Reducing stigma puts change within reach. Ideal for current and aspiring leaders alike, Lamont lays out the path forward to creating a culture of recognition in the workplace.

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14. See it. Say it. Appreciate it!: The Manager’s Guide to Employee Recognition

By Debra Corey

Showing appreciation through recognition has been proven to be one of the most effective tools a manager has.

However, with 65% of employees saying that they don’t feel appreciated, and 75% of employees who quit their job citing a lack of recognition as the key driver, clearly something’s not working.

This book is a call to action for managers who want to get it right.

It will help you understand the power of appreciation, giving you the skills to See it — look for recognition moments everywhere and anywhere — Say it — take action and make it happen — and Appreciate it! — deliver the ultimate appreciation feeling!

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15. I’m Not Yelling: A Black Woman’s Guide to Navigating the Workplace

By Elizabeth Leiba

I’m Not Yelling is the roadmap for Black women looking to tackle obstacles like imposter syndrome and structural racism to claim their rightful place at work.

Exploring both data and personal accounts from Black businesswomen, Elizabeth Leiba provides the strategy and knowledge necessary to overcome adversity.

This book is essential for any Black leader looking to promote inclusion and make positive changes to the workplace environment.

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16. For the Culture: The Power Behind What We Buy, What We Do, and Who We Want to Be

By Marcus Collins

Whether you’re a manager motivating your team, an employee giving a presentation, an activist staging a protest or an artist selling paintings, we all aim to influence other people.

Marcus Collins argues that cultural engagement is the strongest way to cast influence on others: If you want to motivate people, you need to know how they think.

From leading Beyonce’s digital marketing strategy to contributing to the successful launch of the Brooklyn Nets NBA team, Collins uses his wide breadth of experience as an award-winning marketer to break down the connection between culture and influence.

This book will provide you with the tools necessary to spark collective action.

Buy the book >>

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17. When They Win You Win: Being a Great Manager Is Simpler Than You Think

By Russ Laraway

Businesses around the world are plagued by managers who seem to think that keeping their staff miserable is the best way to deliver profits.

This is a failure of leadership that also hurts the bottom line; research has shown that maintaining a happy, engaged workforce consistently drives measurably better business results across the board.

Russ Laraway’s approach to management, developed at Google, Twitter, Qualtrics, and Goodwater, shows the way to cultivate a happy, productive, and engaged team.

Happy results are sure to follow―for you, your customers, your shareholders and your employees alike.

Buy the book >>

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18. Just Work: How To Root Out Bias, Prejudice, and Bullying to Create a Kick-Ass Culture of Inclusivity

By Kim Scott

Learn how we can all recognize, attack and eliminate workplace injustice ― and transform our careers and organizations in the process.

Revealing a practical framework for both respecting everyone’s individuality and collaborating effectively, Just Work is the essential guide leaders and their employees need to create more just workplaces and establish new norms of collaboration and respect.

From Radical Candor author and co-founder Kim Scott, Just Work will help you root out the problems getting in the way of achieving radical respect at work.

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19. You Owe You: Ignite Your Power, Your Purpose, and Your Why

By Eric Thomas, Ph.D.

Consultant and Minister Eric Thomas offers readers an important message that he wishes he’d received when he was a teenager, homeless, failing school and living with the challenges presented by being a young Black man in America: Stop waiting for inspiration and take control of your own life.

This message helped Thomas rewrite his life’s script, and this book is his guide to how to do the same.

No matter where you are on your journey to authentic leadership or what your goals are, You Owe You can help you move forward.

Buy the book >>

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20. You’ve Been Chosen: Thriving Through the Unexpected

By Cynt Marshall

Cynt Marshall, one of the most influential Black business leaders in America today, has navigated a variety of challenges throughout her life: a violent father, racism in the workplace, and a stage 3 colon cancer diagnosis.

In this book, she uses her experiences to offer hope and guidance toward helping you navigate life’s most difficult challenges.

A finalist for the NAACP Image Award, You’ve Been Chosen is your guide to turning any unexpected and challenging circumstances you may face as a leader into something positive.

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21. Right Kind of Wrong: The Science of Failing Well

By Amy C. Edmondson

After decades of award-winning research, Amy Edmondson is here to upend our understanding of failure and make it work for us.

In Right Kind of Wrong, Edmondson provides the framework to think, discuss and practice failure wisely.

With vivid, real-life stories from business, pop culture, history and more, Edmondson gives us specifically tailored practices, skills and mindsets to help us replace shame and blame with curiosity, vulnerability and personal growth.

You’ll never look at failure the same way again.

Buy the book >>

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22. How to Work with (Almost) Anyone: Five Questions for Building the Best Possible Relationships

By Michael Bungay Stanier

From the innovation that spurs collaboration between colleagues to connecting with clients, strong working relationships are key to a company’s success.

But whether it’s a good one that turns sour or one that was always poor, every relationship struggles at some point.

Many people have accepted this as a fact of life, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Using one conversation and five key questions, Michael Bungay Stanier will show you how to build the strongest possible working relationships.

Buy the book >>

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23. Power to the Middle: Why Managers Hold the Keys to the Future of Work

By Bill Schaninger, Bryan Hancock, Emily Field

“Middle manager.” The term evokes a bygone industrial era in which managers functioned like cogs in a vast bureaucratic machine.

In recent decades, mid-level managers became a favorite target for the chopping block-underappreciated, often considered a superfluous layer of the organization.

Not only does this outdated perspective need to change, but the future demands it.

In Power to the Middle, McKinsey thought leaders Bill Schaninger, Bryan Hancock and Emily Field call for a profound reimagining of managers and their roles.

Buy the book >>

And because the concept of Radical Candor all started with a dog named Belvedere, this bonus book The Canine Cocomega Effect: A Breakthrough to Healing Your Dog’s Gut with Superfats is a great addition to the bookshelf of any pup parent!

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*Descriptions for these books were provided by the authors and/or taken from publisher’s websites and Amazon. We may earn commission from links on this page, but we only recommend books we think you’ll love.

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Katie Bartlett is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying history and journalism. At Penn, Katie enjoys being a reporter and editor for the Daily Pennsylvanian and tutoring elementary school students in the West Philly public schools. In her free time, Katie can be found hiking or hanging out with her two cats.

Originally published at https://www.radicalcandor.com on July 6, 2023.



Radical Candor

Tips from the NTY + WSJ bestseller to help you kick ass at work without losing your humanity. Visit RadicalCandor.com to join the movement.