12 Books IT Leaders Should Read

8 minute read
12 Books IT Leaders Should Read

Establishing the right work and life balance is tough, especially in the IT industry. In order to be trail blazers in the field, it is essentially a job requirement for IT leaders to stay on top of changing industry trends while continuing to brush up on their leadership techniques. And with hundreds of business and technology books at our fingertips, there is the added challenge of figuring out which ones are the “must-read” titles. Which ones are really worth your time? Which ones will have enough relevant and time-resistant wisdom to find a semi-permanent spot in your personal library?

To save you time, we researched online, spoke to our thought leaders, and combed over user reviews to compile a list of books that cover the most important issues for today’s IT leaders.  

Added bonus: Research shows that reading not only improves communication and emotional intelligence, but it can also reduce stress, bringing that ideal work life balance back to an attainable reach.

Read our recommendations to see which ones you've checked off your list and which ones should be your next endeavor.

1. The New IT: How Technology Leaders are Enabling Business Strategy in the Digital Age

Author: Jill Dyché 

Topics: Infrastructure, Digital, Strategy

The New IT

Bestselling author Jill Dyché, vice president of best practices at SAS, has consulted with business and IT executives of Fortune 500 companies for most of her career. In “The New IT,” Dyché tackles the many issues shadow IT can bring into an organization and how IT leaders should be using new technology to their advantage. 

“The New IT” maps out how IT organizations can strengthen their position within the enterprise, solidify their role as a business partner, and enable business strategy in a digital age. 

Through studies and best practices from real companies like Toyota, Merck, Brooks Brothers, and Union Bank, you will learn how IT leaders can reframe today’s conversation about IT and propel the business forward. 


2. The Leadership Handbook: 26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs

Author: John C. Maxwell

Topic: Leadership

In this book, New York Times best-selling author John Maxwell provides insight on The Leadership Handbookhow to become a leader. Maxwell’s first step: Learn how to lead yourself.

As the author notes, leadership will affect every aspect of an endeavor—whether the endeavor is successful or not. Thus, no matter what challenge comes your way, it’s critical that a leader knows how to prepare and react in the most motivating way possible.

“The Leadership Handbook” discusses the crucial element of cultivating your own preparation for and response to not only achievement, but also to failure and risk. With 26 insights for new, aspiring and veteran leaders, this book presents a blueprint for leadership. Maxwell’s first step: Learn how to lead yourself.


3. Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World

Authors: Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler

Topics: Business Life, Finance


“Bold” is the follow-up book from the coauthors of the New York Times bestseller “Abundance.” In their new book, Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler create a how-to guide for creating wealth while positively impacting the world around you.

“Bold” unfolds in three parts. Part one discusses how technology is simultaneously disrupting today’s Fortune 500 companies while providing start-ups with exponential opportunity. In part two, the authors investigate experiences from highly successful entrepreneurs, including the personal story of how Diamandis built 15 companies. “Bold” closes with an exploration of crowd-sourcing tools and online communities that can contribute to business success in today’s ever-connected culture.

4. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t

Author: Simon Sinek

Topics: Workplace, Culture, Leadership

Leaders Eat Last

Why do some people love their job while others don’t? Why do employees feel like they belong at one company but not another?

This book shows why and how great leaders create positive workplace environments, where employees feel inspired, trusted, and valued.

Author Simon Sinek explains why some teams are able to trust each other so deeply that they would put their lives on the line, while other teams are doomed to fail. Sinek uses his research and travels around the world to show you how biology and human nature contribute to the answer: leaders eat last.


5.  Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster Moving World

Author: John Kotter

Topics: Strategy, Competition, Organizational Change, Change Management


Best-selling author and global leadership and change management expert John Kotter discusses a new powerful framework for how companies can compete and win in a world of constant change and disruption. This book shows how traditional organizational hierarchies have evolved to meet a company’s daily demands.

Kotter explores how companies can take advantage of rapid-fire strategic challenges and still be profitable through eight accelerants that drive the new system. He also discusses how leaders can create a sense of urgency for change and how the most successful companies focus their employees on opportunities to thrive in an ever-changing world.


6. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

Author: Charles Duhigg

Topics: Process, Infrastructure, Workplace, Culture, Business Life

The Power of Habit

This New York Times bestseller from Pulitzer Prize–winning business reporter Charles Duhigg explains why habits exist and how they can be changed for the better.

“The Power of Habit” showcases diverse examples of human nature, from the boardroom of Procter & Gamble to the sidelines of the NFL. By simply understanding how habits work and unlocking the human potential behind the science of habits, Duhigg posits that we can transform ourselves, our companies and our communities. 

“You’ll never look at yourself, your organization, or your world quite the same way.”
—Daniel H. Pink, bestselling author of “Drive and A Whole New Mind”

7. The 11 Secrets of Highly Influential IT Leaders

Author: Marc J. Schiller

Topics: Information Management, Leadership, Culture, Influence

The 11 Secrets of Highly Influential IT Leaders

Often left out of strategic decision-making meetings, IT leaders are constantly battling to prove the business value of IT to boardrooms. Marc J. Schiller says that the key to understanding this problem and finding its resolution lies in one word: influence.

But to gain a strategic seat in the boardroom, IT leaders don’t need to become Machiavellian master-minds. Schiller encourages them to master the art of credibility, communication, and presentation to pave the way. IT leaders have the important task of selling their ideas, their projects and their budgets to the senior leadership team. To do this, they must gain the trust and respect of their C-Suite peers and colleagues.

8. The CIO Edge: Seven Leadership Skills You Need to Drive Results

Authors: Graham Waller, Karen Rubenstruck, George Hallenbeck

Topics: Leadership, Management, Culture, Workplace

The CIO Edge

Successful CIOs consistently exceed expectations and maximize the business value of IT. But how? In this book, the authors show the “edge” they have is more than technical skill and business know-how. They excel at cultivating great working relationships with their teams and other teams at their company.

The authors draw on extensive data to show how successful IT leaders master seven skills, including the ability to inspire others, connect with a wide audience, value other people’s ideas and care deeply about their work relationships. Through these skills, the book argues that the most successful IT leaders don’t work harder, they work smarter.


9. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Author: Daniel H. Pink

Topics: Leadership, Workplace


You might think that the best motivator is money, but this New York Times bestseller explains why that approach is flawed. Author Daniel H. Pink says that the human desire to direct our own lives is the secret to satisfaction at work, school or home. Pinkman explains the intense draw we have to learn and create new things, and to better ourselves and the world around us.

Based on decades of research, ”Drive” shows that there is a disconnect between what science says and what companies do when it comes to motivating employees. With the impacts of this discrepancy affecting how we feel at work and at home, this book explores how we can harness real motivation to change the way we live. 


10. The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win

Authors: Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, George Spafford

Topics: Production, Operations (DevOps), Management

The Phoenix Project

In a unique story-telling style, the three authors of “The Phoenix Project” weave a relatable—and educational—tale about the DevOps movement and how it relates to today’s IT operations.  

Readers will follow the story of IT manager Bill, beginning with a critical call from his CEO about a new IT initiative that is crucial to the success of his company. The catch? The initiative, dubbed The Phoenix Project, is not only over budget, it’s also late. Bill has 90 days to fix The Phoenix Project or the IT department will face a certain doom: outsourcing.

Find out how Bill rallies to reorganize his workflow, streamline communications and better service other business units. 


11. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Author: Simon Sinek

Topics: Leadership, Management, Workplace

Start with Why

Learn why certain leaders and companies are more innovative, influential and profitable. What is their secret? Why are they more successful? What are they doing differently?

This book explains that influential leaders and innovative thinkers—like Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers—act, think and communicate completely differently than others. One key thing they have in common: They started by asking: "Why?"

Discover what separates great leaders and great companies from others through real stories and insights from the author. 


12. Leading Change

Author: John P. Kotter

Topics: Change Management, Leadership, Organizational Change

Leading Change

Change in the workplace is inevitable and commonplace, and yet it is also one of the most challenging undertakings an organization must face. In this international bestseller John Kotter discusses an eight-step process for managing change that quickly became a foundation for successful leaders around the world.

Serving as a guide and toolkit, Kotter provides practical tips for leaders and managers tasked with leading change initiatives. Through an easy to follow process outline and fascinating personal stories, this book identifies how an organization can achieve its goals without being derailed in the process. This book will leave you feeling inspired, motivated, and prepared to
lead the way.


Is your favorite business book missing from our list? Leave us a comment so we can share the wealth of knowledge!

Photo credits: Amazon

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