Leaders are readers.

They don’t necessarily get engrossed in their favorite sci-fi novel. However, the heightened sense of responsibility often acts as a portal to personal and professional growth. What starts with a pinch of professional curiosity, ambition, or a desire to be a better chieftain, may end up with a paperback in their hands. 

With the workplace as their playground, many leaders wish to learn the facets of the game better and apply new ideas. They even become avid readers – like Winston Churchill, Gandhi, or Steve Jobs – and stress how reading across fields makes a better innovator and a leader.

To set your sails towards a thriving career, we asked leaders around our office to help us come up with leadership book essentials. What came are these dozen gems with a stamp of high recommendation.

For Serious Strategic Thinkers

Wardley Maps by Simon Wardley
wardley maps by simon wardley transformed
Recommended by Net Group’s founder, Priit Kongo

Rating on Amazon: 4.4/5 ★★★★✬

It’s one of the rare pieces both business leaders and engineers find useful. Just as it connects those two groups to mutual liking, the book also helps leaders connect the dots of a company ecosystem at all levels of impact. 

“All models are wrong but some are useful” is an underpromise from Simon. His systematic insights aid professionals in building bridges along the entire product development path – from roadmap and product specifications to frontend and backend requirements. The book gives very few answers. However, it does offer a model that helps leaders have difficult conversations and think their way to the right answers.


For Those In Search of Coaching Encyclopedia
and a Handbook

The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier
the coaching habit michael bungay stainer transformed
Recommended by Net Group’s founder, Priit Kongo

Rating on Amazon: 4.5/5 ★★★★✬

In Michael Bungay Stanier’s ‘The Coaching Habit,’ leadership turns into a professional learning of empowerment. With finesse, he distills seven powerful questions that turn unproductive conversations into catalysts for change. Designed for readers short on time, this isn’t just a book; it’s your on-demand advice companion. 

Stanier, an award-winning author with a profound experience of training more than 10,000 managers, crafted a masterpiece that offers a new understanding of leadership. By prompting leaders to ask, not tell; guide, not dictate, he transcends mundane how-to manual by blending neuroscience, behavioral economics, and wit.

Amazon | MiRKO Estonia | Audible

For Sales Mavericks and Pretty Much Everyone Else

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
how to win friends and influence people dale carnegie transformed
Recommended by Net Group’s Head of Business Digitalisation, Magnus Hillermaa

Rating on Amazon: 4.7/5 ★★★★✬

Probably the most recommended book in the history of the business genre. Needless to say, for a very good reason. Dale Carnegie’s book isn’t just an ink on paper; it gained the status of a sales bible that holds keys to unlocking doors, sealing deals, and leaving a lasting mark both in the corporate jungle and in your personal life. Precisely the reason why our entire business team vouches for the value of this book’s practice.

It’s your personal sales coach teaching you timeless techniques to captivate colleagues, win over clients, and navigate office politics with finesse. No gimmicks, just genuine insights on human interaction that already made so many MVPs swear by its principles.

Amazon | MiRKO Estonia | Audible

For Organizational Voyagers

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
the lean startup by eric ries transformed

Rating on Amazon: 4.5/5 ★★★★✬

Dropbox, Airbnb, Uber, and Spotify all have one thing in common. They are all real-world, successful lean startups who abide by the principles and knowledge found in this book. The Lean Startup methodology empowers you to employ a feedback loop to validate your business concept. Through the build-measure-learn loop, you gauge customer interest in your idea. If it doesn’t resonate, the insights gleaned from your testing provide the roadmap for pivoting and adapting your business strategy. It’s one of the pieces of advice we often share with our customers and readers.

Amazon | MiRKO Estonia | Audible

For Navigating Constant Change

Strategy: A History by Lawrence Freedman
strategy a history lawrence freedman transformed
Recommended by Net Group’s founder, Priit Kongo

Rating on Amazon: 4.5/5 ★★★★✬

Lawrence Friedman, one of the leading authorities on war and international politics, possesses a deep understanding of the core matters of strategy. He describes strategy as the skill of crafting power, a complex thing to become proficient in. As Freedman astutely notes, “While it is undoubtedly a good thing to have, it is also a hard thing to get right.” 

He navigates readers through time and space, legends of early age, and recent history to teach lessons on this unpredictable phenomenon. Its sudden turns, disappointments, frustrations, and distress and how to keep buggering on. The book explains that strategy begins with the current situation, and the idea that it’s solely about achieving set goals is far from correct.

Amazon | MiRKO Estonia | Audible

For an Engineering Mindset

Business Data Science by Matt Taddy
business data science by matt taddy transformed

Rating on Amazon: 4.4/5 ★★★★✬

Tech-savvies, this book is the level of technical detail you were looking for. Written by a professor of Economics and Statistics at Chicago University and a leader at highly esteemed companies in Microsoft, Ebay, and Amazon, the book will be exactly what you expect: practical, insightful, well-structured, and fresh. 

An essential read for anyone who helps organizations to build data models that align with overarching business strategy; anyone trying to use machine learning to gain insights into customers, shape decision-making processes, and generate value.


For Humans, Not Productivity Machines

Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman
four thousand weeks time management for mortals oliver burkeman min

Rating on Amazon: 4.6/5 ★★★★✬

Conventional wisdom and productivity hacking narratives should be challenged. In a world obsessed with reaching inexplicable levels of productivity, Oliver Burkman does just that – he offers a fresh perspective. 

Burkeman draws from ancient wisdom, contemporary philosophy, and knowledge in psychology to guide you toward a more meaningful work life. Instead of futile attempts to “do it all,” you’ll learn to embrace the finite nature of your four thousand weeks – the average human lifespan. This engaging, thought-provoking, and practical book shows that the way we think about time is a choice, offering a path to a richer, more fulfilling existence. And perhaps – contrary to what you might expect – way more productive workdays…

Amazon | MiRKO Estonia | Audible

For No-Nonsense Leaders

Excellence Wins: A No-Nonsense Guide to Becoming the Best in a World of Compromise by Horst Schulze
excellence wins a no nonsense guide to becoming the best in a world of compromise horst schulze transformed

Rating on Amazon: 4.8/5 ★★★★✬

In “Excellence Wins,” leadership luminary Horst Schulze shares five decades of unparalleled expertise, revealing the keys to triumph in a world where compromise is name of the game. As a co-founder and former president of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Schulze unveils visionary principles that drove his global success.

Drinking from the source of Shulze’s wisdom you will learn to: cultivate leadership, elevate customer experience, engage your team, foster excellence, and be a true servant of your customers. Schulze’s adaptable principles empower leaders at any career stage. If leaders are readers, they should all be reading this one. Because it will propel you towards becoming a better and a more driven leader. 

Amazon | Audible

For Hard and Frank Conversations

Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well by Douglas Stone & Sheila Heen
thanks for the feedback douglas stone sheila heen transformed

Rating on Amazon: 4.6/5 ★★★★✬

Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen, seasoned experts with a 15-year track record, unveil the secrets of effective feedback in ‘Thanks for the Feedback.’ In workplaces where feedback is vital and conflicts are common, they provide a practical framework backed by applying recent neuroscience and psychology practices. 

Learn to steer the constant barrage of comments, monthly review meetings, and hard conversations without dwindling the effort to keep your team straight-shooting and plain-spoken. Not all readers can afford to miss this transformative guide towards becoming better at giving and receiving feedback, and therefore better leaders in any field.

Amazon | Audible

For Mentorship-oriented Leaders

The Mentor Leader: Secrets to Building People and Teams That Win Consistently by Tony Dungy
the mentor leader tony dungy transformed

Rating on Amazon: 4.7/5 ★★★★✬

Tony Dungy, NFL legend and Super Bowl champion, shares his winning leadership style in “The Mentor Leader” which can be applied in any field. Discover the seven keys to mentoring leadership and why they’re so effective in the modern business landscape. Learn how mentor-leadership brings out the best in people, and how Tony handles mistakes and discipline and inspires other leaders and followers without intimidation. 

Whether for your team, family, or organization, this book offers invaluable insights for success while staying true to your values. Dive into the wisdom of a true mentor leader and elevate your leadership game.

Amazon | Audible

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