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HBR's 10 Must Reads on Leadership

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  2,278 ratings  ·  109 reviews
Go from being a good manager to an extraordinary leader.

If you read nothing else on leadership, read these 10 articles (featuring “What Makes an Effective Executive,” by Peter F. Drucker). We've combed through hundreds of Harvard Business Review articles on leadership and selected the most important ones to help you maximize your own and your organization's performance.

Paperback, 217 pages
Published January 3rd 2011 by Harvard Business Review Press (first published 2010)
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Emma Angeline
Nov 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: skillz
I super enjoyed this. Some articles are defo more useful than others but I’m sure that’s down to taste and style.
I will say tho how apparent I found that this is written for men. The most pressing advice seems to be the prizing of self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy. Women are conditioned to do these thing constantly in all areas of our lives from the outset. Imagine them being treated as a novelty? The answer to so many of the problems in this is just good old fashioned therapy, something
Mark Muckerman
Jan 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Read it, but read it with caution, thoughtfulness, emotionally balanced introspection, and with no expectation of "an answer".

The Harvard Business Review deserves its outstanding reputation. With that comes the risk of every word being looked to as gospel (because "it's the HBR"), or read with an overly critical eye and an unconscious need to "find flaw with those pretentious bastards at HBR".

However, this collection of articles is well written (as expected), but also well compiled to provide a
Jul 15, 2016 rated it liked it
As a person not really interested in business school, I mostly read this to remind myself of how feudalism is alive and accepted in modern life. Believe it or not feudalism has evolved since it became a passe form of popular government, in the form of corporate governments. This book is a terrific introduction to a world that most of us ignore, or complain about in an under-educated way. I think its important to read the same articles that the heads of these institution are reading, in the same ...more
Nada AbuHassan
Dec 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
love it ,recommend
Tommy Kiedis
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: leadership
When the editors of Harvard Business Review open their vault of leadership and management gems, scouring its vast depth for the best and brightest of their treasures, and then line them up for you to glimpse and grasp -- get in line! Whether you look at HBR's 10 Must Reads On Leadership as an essential leadership primer or approach it as a graduate course sandwiched between two covers, this book is outstanding.

HBR's 10 Must Reads On Leadership is a gathering of some of the best thought leaders
Kari Metzger
Dec 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Love this book on leadership - it's a collection of articles that are perfect to keep in your flight bag for trips - short essays that give you something to think about and of course, the quintessential Drucker (how can you go wrong?)

I really would have given this 5 stars, but the last couple of articles didn't quite hit as close to home for me - even so, I waffled between 4 and 5 stars (would have been an ideal 4.5 star book!).

Recommended for anyone looking to up their game in leadership. :)
Feb 04, 2022 rated it liked it
I wanted to like this book, but it left me depressed that the highest regarded popular press writings on leadership are (still) written by white men. What topics and narratives would we be exploring in the realm of leadership if the authorship had more diverse gender and racial representation?

When white men make up the vast majority of Fortune 500 CEOs, it starts to feel like the issue of representation in this book's authorship is part of a systemic issue. I hope HBR is taking this into consid
Yifei H
Jan 10, 2021 rated it liked it
Not as great as HBR: Managing Yourself, but it provides a multiple frameworks for thinking about leadership, and discusses qualities of great leaders, inviting the process of self-reflection. Like all the HBR series, it’s useful when you want to reset yourself: to dissect frustrations or stagnation, and identify blind spots to more intentionally “work on yourself.”

Key takeaways: self-awareness and self-regulation distinguish great leaders from mediocre ones; the work of a leader is mainly to ali
Geir Skårland
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Unscientific, anecdotal and value-based, this collection of articles gives a good overview of leadership thinking. However, most of the articles follow this dubious method:
-look at successful companies or leaders
-formulate a leadership model and apply this to the material
-create compelling images as an illustration
-tell stories that confirm the model

The mere fact that the collection ends up with very different models of leadership shows that the results are more subjective and random than they p
Nick Jamil
Oct 08, 2017 rated it liked it
It was very hard to rate this book. Many of the articles are actually quite insightful, despite my rating, and well worth the read. One could even call some of them "game changing". With regards to others, I just don't think I'm at a place in my career and in my organization where I can appreciate the articles. I skimmed those. Finally, there is an article or two in there, or some articles with a few parts within them, that I vehemently disagree with and can't understand how they made it into a ...more
Aug 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Only a few of the articles were interesting but not "must reads" for a business person. Perhaps the articles were novel at the time they were published. Since then, many of the insightful topics have been expanded into books. A business person would recognize some of the authors like Peter F. Drucker ("The Effective Executive"), Jim Collins ("Good to Great"), and Daniel Goleman ("Emotional Intelligence"). ...more
Oct 31, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I get that the conventions and quality of academic writing vary across disciplines. But the breathless tone of business/management academia gussies up the meager insights of this discipline as significant, penetrating scholarship. It isn't. And this book isn't worth your time. ...more
Mike Ncube
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: leadership
Great resource for anyone leading a team or company or any aspiring leaders. I particularly enjoyed Jim Collins Level 5 leadership insights. I’ve read his book Good to Great too and this was an excellent summary of it
Sep 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
There were a couple interesting essays ("Crucibles of Leadership", can't remember the other one I liked) but in general I'm annoyed I had to read it for class. ...more
Dec 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
I picked this up from a charity store for 2 quid and thought hopefully, I can brush up on some of the learnings from B-school. It's been a while afterall.

I actually forgot how much stating the obvious sometimes these books get. Having said that, there were some interesting parts to the read, especially anecdotes from the lives of some business leaders but one pays for that by wading through much that is tedious and rather repetitive.

Maybe another reason, I didn't find much value in it because, I
Javier Rivero
Jan 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
This compilation makes yourself challenge and question your performance and existance as a leader, in a good way. Much of the treats, competencies, skills, etc described from the various authors do converge at certain points. And while every author claims they did the best research amongst top X CEOs across all continents in the top performing companies, the conclusions vary a lot. Either way, it's a good exercise to read all of this learnings derived from these exhaustive leadership analaysis.

Ashik Uzzaman
Aug 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: leadership
Last week I finished "HBR's 10 Must Reads on Leadership" by Harvard Business Review featuring a good collection of leadership articles from renowned business leaders. Here are the articles from the book

(1) Daniel Goleman - What Makes a Leader?
(2) Peter Drucker - What Makes an Effective Executive?
(3) John P. Kottner - What Leaders Really Do
(4) Ronald A Heifetx and Donald L. Laurie - The Work of Leadership
(5) Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones - Why Should Anyone Be Led by You?
(6) Warren G. Bennis and
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I think this edition is one of the better HBR "10 Must Reads". This volume, on the subject of leadership, I found to be particularly intriguing. All of the articles remain timely, even though some were written long ago. These articles, which range from the difference between management and leadership, to being a truly authentic leader, and many points in between, are very helpful. Leadership is such an amorphous subject, and leadership comes in all different varieties, yet still the researchers ...more
Barry Davis
Dec 18, 2019 rated it liked it
An excellent collection of HBR articles by business leaders.
Goleman, Daniel - What Makes a Leader?
Drucker, Peter - What Makes an Effective Executive?
Kottner, John P. - What Leaders Really Do
Heifetx, Ronald A/. and Laurie, Donald L. - The Work of Leadership
Goffee, Robert and Jones, Gareth - Why Should Anyone Be Led by You?
Bennis, Warren G. and Thomas, Robert J. - Crucibles of Leadership
Collins, Him - Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve
Rooke, David, and Torbert, William
Mahesh Karthik
Feb 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
A worthy read as a compendium of good leadership articles. It provides tips and tricks, general stats and studies about the leadership and is not a guide to build leadership. If there was one concept that I would carry from this book, it would be about authentic leadership. Great leaders can inspire and move someone, but emulating them and their action will not get him/her far. On the contrary, understanding your own trials and tribulation, your life challenges and the journey itself, will help ...more
Ricardo Cavalcanti
Very good articles, as expected from HBR, mainly aimed at executive leadership. As one would expect, not all articles resonated with me, but some did and are more of must reads than others:

- What Makes a Leader? by Daniel Goleman;
- What Makes an Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker
- What Leaders Really Do by John P. Kotter
- Seven Transformations of Leadership by David Rooke and William R. Torbert
- In Praise of the Incomplete Leader by Deborah Ancona, Thomas W. Malone, Wanda J. Orlikowski, and
Jun 20, 2022 rated it liked it
Out of ten chapters, I’d say 3-4 were engaging and are sticking. In general, I think it’s time to update this book-add more recent anecdotal stories, add more diverse voices. The most recent article is from 2007 and the oldest from 1996. That said, I’d imagine much of the message is the same, but perhaps the manuscripts would be more engaging by incorporating more perspectives. This book is not going to make you into a leader, but there are some thought provoking ideas and things to consider for ...more
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A collection of abstracts from all the bestselling books on Leadership. It's an excellent resource if you don't want to go through the pain of reading all the books completely and just want to grab the idea of all in a couple of days. The chapters give you multiple but related perspectives on leadership. Liked the chapters 'Discovering your Authentic Leadership' and In praise of the incomplete leader' the most. A handy reference to keep on your study table. ...more
Juan Jacobo Bernal
Jul 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I have never been a huge fan of anthologies. But this one has absolutely blown my mind: the authors in Harvard Business Review’s book dissect fascinating cases and present applicable leadership lessons. As the post-pandemic era begins to dawn, we might face unprecedented levels of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity— brilliant leadership will become a vital skill. I highly recommend this tome.
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
There are some essays like the first one on emotional intelligence that are excellent. I use this book for leadership training / development with people on my team, etc. If one cannot read the whole book, a select 3 essays can provide as much insight when combined with discussion as a course at a top business school like Stanford. Other essays meander and have redundant themes, or poor examples.
I had a problem with this book: some of the articles focused on the same main argument although the authors structured it differently. I would have enjoying reading articles that focus on different aspects of leadership and not so much about the difference between a manager and a leader or the different kinds of leaders. The articles seemed kind of repetitive and redundant to me.
Dec 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
While working for 7 years as a director of 20+ company, I didn't know that there's so much to find out about leadership. I always thought that leadership is how much charismatic you can be. But the book opens such depths of science of leadership, that it complete changes the way you look at the topic. Highly recommended. ...more
Yates Buckley
Jan 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: technical
The content is a series of essays in recent leadership perspectives. It is not bad information but it is also vague and generic. I found it is possible to often imagine the exact opposite of the stated “key factor for leadership” when referring to actual historical leaders. Worth reading but with grains of salt...
Riah Kindle
Jun 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Read this book for my Executive Leadership course and it definitely has shaped my mindset to think more of a leader. While reading, we were instructed to present our thoughts on the reading material and also provide feedback to our classmates.

I will definitely be reading this book again and I am glad that I purchased the hard copy.
Dean Marquis
Apr 08, 2022 rated it really liked it
This is a very good book and I highly recommend it. It's put out by the Harvard Business Review ;however, it's theoretical enough to be used by everyone one.
"No Strategy survives contact with the enemy. Its only through Superior Leadership that saves the Day." Von Motke. No where is this more transparent then in the Business World.
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