Being a career women ain’t easy. Finding inspiring and relevant books to read about the complexities of being a career woman ain’t easy. That’s why whenever we come across a particularly insightful tome we like to share it near and far. Whether you work in a corporate office or are a freelance creative, diving into everything from how to work alongside men to how to be vulnerable in leadership (and why you definitely should) can boost your business in untold ways. Sure, it’s easy to get turned off by shouty, evangelical advice that instructs you to do all sorts of things any reasonable person would feel uncomfortable with (no joke, I once read that telling your boss no when you disagree would never fail to cultivate mutual respect—lol). That said, sometimes tiny nuggets of gold are hidden in the depths and once you uncover them, they go on to irrevocably change the way you think about, and behave in, your workplace. (And sometimes you just need a funny story about how when Melinda Gates tasked her husband with driving the kids to school he unintentionally inspired all the other dads to do the same.) Keep reading for the books by female leaders we’re loving right this minute.
Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
If you’re not team Brené, where have you been? The Oprah-approved researcher recently launched what’s been described as “the ultimate playbook for developing brave leaders and courageous cultures”. According to her new tome, daring leadership is a collection of four skill sets that are, in fact, teachable. Expect to have your world rocked by Brenéisms (“Daring is saying ‘I know I will eventually fail, and I’m still all in.’ I’ve never met a brave person who hasn’t known disappointment, failure, even heartbreak”), and to go away with actionable strategies to develop the way you manage.
The Moment Of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates
This book has been called “an urgent call to courage” as well as a manifesto for an equal society. Even if you identify as a feminist with a capital F, you’ll take away a deeper understanding of exactly why empowering women in career (and in life) empowers everybody else. Melinda shares her story to outline gender parity issues that affect even the most privileged women as well as lessons learned from women living in developing countries through her travels with the Gates Foundation. Her personal anecdote about bossing Bill into driving their kids to school is particularly relatable and hilarious.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
What can you learn from the former first lady about work? Lots, actually. Part memoir, part commentary on ambitious women in the public eye, this is a book that will touch you ways in you don’t expect. Michelle takes us right back to her childhood, detailing the incredible achievements of her life pre-White House. (Reminder: she attended Princeton and Harvard Law.) Of course, there is also much to read on her life with Barack, including dealing with the stress of being in the spotlight, straight up truths about balancing career and family, and what it means to be an unintentional role model.
That’s What She Said: What Men and Women Need to Know About Working Together by Joanne Lipman
Joanne is a best-selling author but you may know her best for the viral article she penned for the Wall Street Journal in 2014: “Women at Work: A Guide for Men”. In this book, she posits that unless men participate in the conversation about closing the gender gap, we’ll be leaning in forever. Since its publication, it’s been referred to as a roadmap of sorts, providing businesses with practical tips to eliminate bias. It’s jammed with success stories, as well as surprising insights into a broad range of relevant issues ranging from child-rearing (who does it best?) to brain differences between the genders.
Superfast: How to Lead at Speed by Sophie Devonshire
Shortlisted for the best leadership book at the Business Book Awards, prepare yourself for a fastpaced commentary on innovation and why the ability to make smart decisions quickly is crucial to your success. Sophie is a self-described “acceleration addict” who is constantly curious about how to speed up results. She hates wasting time and believes that impatience is usually a virtue. Expect practical ideas for boosting performance in a fast-but-considered way and insights into how the world’s most savvy leaders map their way to achievement. If you’re a procrastinator, you might like to read this.
The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin
Are you all about a personality quiz? This is the book for you. According to Gretchen, we all fall into one of four tendency groups (Upholder, Questioner, Rebel, Obliger) based on how we respond to outer expectations (like work deadlines) and inner expectations (attempting to go to yoga regularly). Knowing which one you are is illuminating but delving into the tendencies of your colleagues can help foster understanding and smooth tension in the workplace. From a leadership perspective, this information allows you to plan situations that make it more likely for you and your team to achieve.