7 Senior Execs Share Must-Read Books for Business Leaders - Senior Executive
Books for Executives and Leaders 5 min

7 Senior Execs Share Must-Read Books for Business Leaders

Executives from Priceline.com, Andela, Hydrow, College HUNKS Hauling Junk and more share their book recommendations for other leaders.

by Kaitlin Milliken on November 9, 2021


  • Executives from Priceline.com, Andela, Hydrow, Rent the Runway, and more share their book recommendations

  • Books cover digital transformation, leadership, human psychology, and more

The most successful business leaders take the time to absorb new perspectives and seek new solutions for effectively running their business. However with shelves of business books, you may not know where to start. 

Senior Executive Media asked senior leaders to share the reading recommendations that have shaped their leadership style and guided them through business challenges. Suggestions covered digital transformation, leadership, entrepreneurship, human psychology, and more. 

See the alphabetical list of suggestions below. 

Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant” by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne

  • Pages: 256
  • Summary: This book explores the importance of exploring “blue oceans” or untapped markets in spaces that have growth potential. Case studies come from over 30 industries. 
  • Executive Review: “It’s more true today than ever, in terms of how to find your kind of niche in a very crowded market” — Shama Hyder, CEO of Zen Media

“The Content Trap: A Strategist’s Guide to Digital Change” by Bharat Anand

  • Pages: 464 
  • Summary: Anand, a professor at Harvard Business School, explores how leaders can navigate digital transformation, emphasizing the importance of making connections to the broader business ecosystem. The book gathers case studies from executives who have successfully led digital change. 
  • Executive Review: “It’s a brilliant book about how to think about product, what affects people, and how to create that network effect [around a new product]” — Bruce Smith, CEO of Hydrow.

“Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

  • Pages: 320
  • Summary: Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, former members of the Navy SEALs, share lessons from the battlefield on what separates success teams from those that fail. Extreme Ownership shares the principles that enable SEAL units to complete difficult missions and how the same mind-set can lead to corporate wins. 
  • Executive Review: “It really is a great primer, especially for founders, on how to rethink their own leadership style…especially in a startup. … Our job as founders is to hand off as much authority and responsibility to our team as we can, almost as quickly as we can. And we’ve done our jobs, right, we’re hiring people who are way better suited than we are on any given, frankly, any given capability. And so getting comfortable with that and understanding what that means is something that really resonated for me” — Scott Case, founding CTO of Priceline.com.

“Just Work: Get Sh*t Done, Fast & Fair” by Kim Scott

  • Pages: 466 
  • Summary: Just Work provides a framework for executives to recognize and eliminate the systems that create bias in the workplace. Scott explores why leaders may under-utilize people on their teams and overestimate then offers suggestions to promote effective collaboration. 
  • Executive Review: “[The book] really talks about diversity, equity inclusion in the workplace. And, as a white male, I think it’s really interesting to kind of hear the things that come up in the workplace that I never have to deal with on a daily basis and have built a new respect for” — Dewayne Hankins, chief commercial officer of the Portland Trail Blazers. 

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“The Three Laws of Performance: Rewriting the Future of Your Organization and Your Life” by Dave Logan and Steve Zaffron

  • Pages: 256
  • Summary: In this book, Logan and Zaffron explore why — and how — teams should focus on process improvements when faced with a challenge. They also share how to make system transformations permanent and repeatable.
  • Executive Review: “It’s an incredible book for executives about how to create a better performance from their group and a better future for their company,” Arel Moodie, president of Arel Moodie International. 

“Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman

  • Pages: 499
  • Summary: Kahneman, a psychologist and Nobel Prize in Economics winner, explores two systems that define human thought. The first is fast, intuitive and emotional. The second is slower and more deliberative. Kahneman shares when people should trust their intuition and the benefits of thinking more logically. 
  • Executive Review: “More business leaders and entrepreneurs should spend time understanding human psychology… Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman [explores] behavioral psychology. Understanding humans and how humans think is just always going to be useful in some fashion,” Jeremy Johnson, CEO of Andela.

“Traction: Get A Grip On Your Business” by Gino Wickman

  • Pages: 246
  • Summary: This book explores the Entrepreneurial Operating System, a method for making decisions to facilitate a business’ growth. Wickman breaks a business into six components and shares tips for leading each. 
  • Executive Review: “It 100% has been a game changer. It’s a big reason for how our business went from a few million dollars to now…over $220 million in system revenue in 2021” — Omar Soliman, co-founder and CEO of College HUNKS Hauling Junk.

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