Top 20 Books To Read For CEO's

CEO! What does come to your mind when you come across this word. Passion? Boss? A leader? 

You already know that being a CEO is a big deal. They have so much responsibility and power in their hands that a normal person most probably can't handle. So, you must think they are a scarce species of humans? Not at all! 

They are like any normal human being, but what makes them different is what they think, how they think, and when they think. It is not the external features of a person that will make him a CEO one day, but it is their power of the mind, which takes them to such heights of success.

They all read books, great books that elevate their power of imagination. We are going to discuss the top 20 books for aspiring CEOs below.

Top 20 Books to read for CEOs

Managing Oneself by Peter F. Drucker

managing oneself

In his book 'Managing Oneself', Peter F. Drucker explains how you can develop a life of excellence in a world plentiful of unprecedented possibilities. The primary purpose behind it is simple: Concentrate on your strengths and form a profound conclusion of yourself. 

You need to study more about yourself than little insights into your strengths and weaknesses. You need to recognize how you learn, how you pull with others, what your powers are, and where you can make the most significant contribution. Only then will you realize true and enduring excellence.

The challenges of managing one-self may seem understandable, if not fundamental. And the answers may seem the self-apparent point of appearing naive. But managing oneself needs new and unique things from the individual, and particularly from the knowledge worker. 

In effect, managing one-self requires that each knowledge worker thinks and acts like a Chief Executive Officer.

The Celebrity CEO by Ramon Ray

The Celebrity CEO

The Celebrity CEO is the perfect guide to building a strong personal brand. By improving your brand, you will set your business aside from your opponents and become known as the specialist in your industry

Written for entrepreneurs and small business proprietors who want to make a considerable impact and build a faithful fan base, The Celebrity CEO is the origin for celebrity status in business. 

Learn from the originator of Smart Hustle Media, Ramon Ray, about how to have the mindset of a celebrity CEO and the tools to grow your tribe.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

This book assists us in understanding how habits are developed and how we can utilize them to our benefit, change them when we want to and substitute them when necessary. 

Duhigg does alert the readers that although we know the way habits are made and changed, it is not always simple to do it. Defining the actual cue, for instance, can take some experimentation and study. 

Charles Duhigg leads us to the thrilling edge of scientific findings that illustrate why habits exist and how they can be modified. 

With comprehending intelligence and expertise to extract large measures of information into exciting narratives, Duhigg brings to life a wholly different conclusion of human nature and its potential for alteration.

EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey


Ramsey reveals how to work on your business rather than in it. He explains your company is only as great as its leaders, and your team will never develop exceeding you. 

So, the actual question is, "Are you growing"?

It is an excellent practical business book. It's an abundance of good reminders for those with experience in reality, and it's a unique method to understand the business from an entrepreneurial viewpoint. Highly recommend, especially if you're in any business for yourself.

Tim Cook. The Genius Who Took Apple to The Next Level by Leander Kahney

The book talks about the journey of Tim Cook. How he became the CEO of the biggest company, the world and what came in his way and how he tackled it. 

Tim is said to be the descendant of the great Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple. The charisma and ability of Steve Jobs were hard to match. 

Everyone thought that after the demise of Steve, Apple would sink with him. But then Tim Cook comes who took the responsibility and kept the company on track to triple its value in 8 years. 

Every young aspirant looks after him for his excellent decision-making ability and how well he has not only handled such a big company like Apple but steered to grow even more prominent than anyone expected it to.

Elon Musk. Tesla, SpaceX, and The Quest for Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vange

Ance uses Musk's story to investigate one of the important questions of our age: can the nation of inventors and creators who commenced the modern world for a 100 years still race in an age of intense global competition? 

He claims that Musk is a mixture of fabulous inventors and industrialists like those of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Steve Jobs. More than any other entrepreneur in today's time, Musk has devoted his energies and his large wealth to creating a future that is as rich, far-reaching, and exciting as it was in the visionaries of the golden age of science-fiction stories. 

Mr. Musk is an inspiration for the young striving tech buds. Musk's story of how he managed to escape almost bankruptcy to come the most revolutionary entrepreneur is a hell of a journey itself. His ultimate goal is to colonize the planet Mars. 

He has been called mad over this, but Musk doesn't care all that and is currently engaged in his pursue to send people to Mars and colonize it in such a way that most people can afford it. For this, he is using reusable technology in the rocket.

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

This book is based on more than 40 interviews with Steve Jobs directed in over two years of span. Along with the meetings with more than one hundred family members, friends, rivals, competitors, and colleagues, Walter Isaacson was given unparalleled access to Steve Jobs' life. 

Jobs is said to have urged the people interviewed to speak honestly. Although Jobs agreed about the book, he asked for no authority over its content other than the book's cover and asked the right to see it before it was published. 

Steve was said to be ahead of his times. He has introduced so many new technologies that no one else thought of it before. Steve was once even fired from his own company by the directors for his outrageous decisions which couldn't be understood by the people of that.

Lean Six Sigma Pocket Toolbook by John Maxey

Lean Six Sigma Pocket

The Lean Six Sigma Pocket Tool book is a modern-day most complete and results-based reference to the tools and ideas needed to comprehend, implement, and take advantage of Lean Six Sigma. The only book that groups tools by purpose and utilization; this hands-on reference provides any features like:

Examination of almost 100 tools and methodologies--from DMAIC and Pull Systems to Control Charts and Pareto Charts.

Detailed descriptions of each tool to help you understand how, when, and why to use it for the highest efficacy. Sections for every tool describing how to make it, how to analyze what you find, and expert tips. 

Lean Six Sigma is the current day leading method to maximize production efficiency and gain control over each step in the managerial processes. With “The Lean Six Sigma Pocket Tool book”, you will discover how to boost your organization to new levels of competitive achievement one tool at a time.

The CEO Difference by D. A. Benton

CEO diffrence

In the book The CEO Difference, he presents you the insight and means to make subtle modifications in your presentation, attitude, and leadership manner that will dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness and, consequently, assist you to enjoy work and life. 

Learn how to differentiate yourself with tangible steps to get where you want to go.

The CEO Difference explains how to put your career on an uphill trajectory through confidently distinguishing yourself, openness to change, self-motive, and staying intellectually interested.

CEO Material. How to Be Leader In Any Organization by D. A. Benton

CEO Material

In CEO Material, D. A. Benton confers you how to become extremely visible and unquestionably indispensable to your company. 

You'll learn how to propose confidence, even when something hasn't worked your way. You'll recognize the importance of being a generalist, able to understand every aspect of your business's structure and function. 

You'll find out how to keep learning and to improve so that you never sense stuck, much less seem so to decision-makers.

The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

When Stephen Covey first published his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the book converted an instant rage because people quickly got up and took note that their lives were directed off in the wrong direction. 

More than that, they understood that there were so many mild things they could do in order to drive their life correctly. 

This book was a wonderful lesson for people, education on how to live a life entirely and get closer to the model of being a 'success' in life.

Built To Last. Successful Habits Of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras

Built to Last

This book is the result of his six years of research. Published in 1994 by James C. Collins who is more commonly known as Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, it's long been a contemporary classic and has been interpreted in over 25 languages.

Collins and Porras led a survey with hundreds of CEOs of the world's top companies at the time and then assembled a list of 18 visionary companies, which they then completely analyzed, examined and compared with their non-visionary counterparts.

They wanted to find out what has assisted them in staying successful over the decades, and, in some cases, even a century. Here are the three reasons in the book that most struck me:

  1. Visionary companies are like a cult
  2. Without a core ideology, a company will never be visionary.
  3. You don't need a great idea to start a great company.

Good To Great by Jim Collins

The author defines leadership in terms of 5 different stages, with Level 5 being the top level in the hierarchy. Following are the characteristics of a Level 5 leader:

The first and foremost think of the achievement of their organization and then personal wealth. These are the leaders who are humble but show absolute fierceness in getting the job done

These people think regarding the future of their companies without them and plan about their continuation.

They are modest and rarely like to discuss themselves or their accomplishments. They favour sharing the credit with others as compared to other "good" company leaders who are self-obsessed and egoistic.

Level 5 leaders always allocate the credit of success to others, and if there were no one to the credit, they credited towards 'Luck.'

In times of failure, they take responsibility. This was accurately the opposite in the case of leaders of 'good' or failed organizations.

Great By Choice by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen

Great by Choice differentiates itself from Collins's prior work by its locus on the type of volatile environments faced by leaders today.

The new findings in the book are: The best leaders were more disciplined, more experimental, and more paranoid. Following the assumption that leading in a "fast world" only requires "fast decisions" and "fast action" is a reliable way to get killed. 

The great companies evolved less in reaction to a completely changing world than the comparison companies.

Option B by Sheryl Sanberg and Adam Grant

Option B

Option B is an original book about facing difficulty, building flexibility, and finding joy.

Option B blends Sheryl's insights beside Adam's eye-opening study on discovering strength in the face of adversity. 

It searches the stories of a broad range of people who have succeeded challenges in their lives, recognizes how we can best talk to and supports others in disaster, and offers practical tips for designing resilient families, communities, and workplaces.

Give and Take. A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam Grant

Give and Take sheds light on what effective networking, influence, collaboration, negotiation, and leadership skills have in general.

For generations, we have concentrated on the individual drivers of accomplishment: passion, talent, hard work, and luck. But today, success is more dependent on how we communicate with others. It turns out that at the workplace, most people operate as a matcher, takers, or givers. 

Whereas takers endeavour to gain as much as possible from others and matchers intend to trade evenly, givers are the unique breed of people who provide to others without anticipating anything in return.

Grit. The Power of Passions and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

Grit the Power of Passions and Perseverance

In this must-read book for anyone endeavoring to succeed, pioneering psychiatrist Angela Duckworth shows parents, students, educators, and business people both experienced and new that the mystery to outstanding achievement is not genius but a directed persistence called grit. 

In Grit, Duckworth shares research looking at why one person would rise to be an optimist & another to be a worrier.

The study achieved with a group of middle school students. It looked for "helpless" students whom they believed struggled due to their deficiency of intellectual ability and not for a short of effort.

She hypothesized that their "core assumptions about success and learning" made them depressed, not their past defeats.

In the study, she distributed those same kids into two groups. They allotted half to a "success-only" program. They would praise the kids for performing well no matter how many math questions they solved. They did this each day over the program of several weeks.

The other half they allowed to an "attribution retraining program". The students solved math problems as well. Sometimes, they told the students that they hadn't done enough questions and that they should have worked harder. It showed exactly what they were expecting. 

The children of group one were more optimistic against group B. More such studies are done and explained in the book.

Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Start with Why

The book starts with a correlation of the two main ways to control human behavior. Administration and inspiration. Sinek claims that inspiration is the most powerful and sustainable of the two. 

Sinek says people are motivated by a sense of purpose (or "Why"), and that this should come primarily when interacting, before "How" and "What".

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

In The Lean Start-up, Eric Ries put out the works of successful startups like making minimal viable products ("MVPs"), extensive customer-centric testing based on a measure, build, learn a method of constant innovation, and deciding whether to continue or pivot. 

The Lean Start-up approach encourages companies that are both greater capital efficient and that of leverage human creativity more effectively. 

Sparked by readings from lean manufacturing, it depends on "validated learning," active scientific experimentations, as well as a whole of counter-intuitive methods that shorten product development periods. 

Measure actual growth without resorting to showing metrics, and determine what customers want. It enables a company to change directions with agility, adjusting plans inch by inch, minute by minute.

Rather than exhausting time building elaborate business strategies, The Lean Start-up offers entrepreneurs, in companies of all sizes a way to experiment with their vision continuously, to adjust and change before it's too late. 

Ries presents a scientific approach to building and managing successful startups in an age when companies need to innovate more than ever before.

Testing in Scrum. A Guide for Software Quality Assurance in the Agile World by Tilio Linz

Testing in Scrum

Apphawks as a QA company could not miss emphasizing the importance of testing and product quality. So last but not the least, we are listing one book focusing on software QA only.  

The book is all about agile testing and methods from the viewpoint of a software tester and software quality assurance management.

 Software development managers, quality assurance managers, and project managers will learn tips and tricks on how to conduct testing and quality to maintain their impact and influence on agile projects. Expert certified testers and software quality assurance specialists will be capable of learning how to work within agile software teams successfully and how to integrate their expertise in the best way possible.

 The role of a software tester in an agile environment is discussed in the book as below:

  •     Attending sprint-planning sessions
  •     Technical and communication skills.
  •     Testing throughout the sprint.
  •     Meeting with developers for short hand-off demonstrations.
  •     Attend sprint retrospectives
  •     Documentation of Test cases

 In the book, there are five case studies included from the manufacturing, software industry, and online-trade as well as test exercises for self-assessment of the reader. 

This book will help any CEO of software company understand that this job much more than managing from the top. It will help him understand the importance of the quality assurance process. Then he can take prompt reflective decisions to manage the quality of the products to be launched.


A CEO doesn't read all kinds of books. Their central focus is on Non-Fiction, which helps and assists them in gathering prominent thoughts and ideas. 

Later on, they utilize likewise to their personal and professional lives. If you ask a CEO the cause behind their success; instantly, you will get an answer that they are successful because of their great reading habits. 

While most of us collect some motivation from films, a CEO doesn't do that. Instead, they rely on books for their motivation. According to them, there are a lot of non-fiction stories that guide them how hard work makes a person climb the stairs of success and finally touch his/her objective or goal in life. 

Being a CEO is a very active and hectic job. Often, you have to say bye-bye to good night's sleep. This can lead to a lack of enthusiasm and determination to do the hard work. 

CEOs retain themselves motivated with an intense desire to accomplish what they want by reading good books. These are some of the reasons that enforce CEOs to acquire great reading habits. 

Not just CEOs, it is imperative for everybody to read. At one point in life or another, what you have read earlier, will help you.

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Grzegorz Kłos
Grzegorz Kłos - Apphawks Co-founder
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