World Book Day: AltoPartners’ Top Reads for New CEOs – 15 Must Reads For Newly Appointed CEOs

March 05, 2021 Share this article:

CEO Reading List

In recognition of World Book Day today, 5 March 2021, we compiled a list of 15 must-reads for newly appointed CEOs or anyone wishing to hone their leadership game. In no particular order, they are:

1. Good to Great by Jim Collins (2001)

“Excellent boost for reserved or introverted CEOs. Spoiler alert: they make the best leaders. This book declares war on mediocrity and offers practical advice and strategies on how to achieve the holy grail of leadership, i.e take an organization from good to great.” David Strömwall – Novare Executive Search / AltoPartners Sweden

2. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo (2018)

“Essential reading if you are serious about diversity and inclusion. The more resistant you are to the title, the more you need to read it.” David Strömwall – Novare Executive Search / AltoPartners Sweden

3. Goliath’s Revenge: How Established Companies Turn the Tables on Digital Disruptors by Scott Andrew Snyder and Todd Hewlin (2019)

“The Silicon Valley playbook for any CEO grappling with how to keep up in the post-digital age. Fascinating insights into how established firms have transformed themselves by driving innovation and capitalizing on digital disruption.” Marco Arcaini – AltoPartners Germany

4. The CEO Next Door: The 4 Behaviors that Transform Ordinary People into World-Class Leaders by Elena Botelho, Kim Powell and Tahl Raz (2018)

“Everything you thought you knew about becoming a CEO is probably wrong. This book is crammed full of myth-busting and counter-intuitive insights based on 13,000 hours of interviews drawn from a database of 17,000 CEOs and an in-depth analysis of 2,600 leaders from around the world. Riveting reading.” Sorin Popa – Accord Group/ AltoPartners Romania

5. The Map by Keith Eigel and Karl Kuhnert (2016)

“As a business coach, this is my go-to recommendation for leaders who are serious about personal growth and development. An inspirational guide to achieving leadership maturity and finding your purpose.” Tony Leng – Diversified Search / AltoPartners USA

6. Leadership and self-deception: Getting out of the Box by the Arbinger Institute (2000)
“A profound and practical hand-book for every leader having to confront uncomfortable truths about themselves and their organization. Invaluable in identifying self-deception and putting an end to self-sabotaging behaviour. This book will bring you joy.” Tony Leng – Diversified Search / AltoPartners USA

7. How to Raise Successful People: Simple Lessons for Radical Results by Esther Wojcicki (2019)

“Respected American journalist, university professor and mother to three highly successful daughters (two of them tech CEOs), Esther’s book(s) and blogs are among the most inspiring when it comes to leadership skills, career development and raising the next generation of leaders. Her methods are really easy to apply and keep them in mind. All is based on Trust, Respect, Independence, Collaboration, and Kindness – an easy TRICK to remember.” Dr. Julia Zdrahal-Urbanek – ALTO Executive Search / AltoPartners Austria

8. Atomic Habits by James Clear (2018).

“Big changes are built on tiny habits. This is the premise of this brilliant book which unpacks the science behind what it takes to make the necessary changes to realize your goals”. Corinne Klajda - Accord Group /AltoPartners Poland

9. The Little Book of Stoicism: Timeless Wisdom to Gain Resilience, Confidence, and Calmness by Jonas Salzgeber (2019)

“Timely advice for anyone feeling overwhelmed at having to lead through a global pandemic. A perfect bedside companion to dip into.” Corinne Klajda – Accord Group /AltoPartners Poland

10. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom (2002)

“A moving and beautiful tribute to mentors everywhere – a classic about the big lessons around love, life and death.” Corrine Klajda – Accord Group /AltoPartners Poland

11. Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors by Michael E. Porter (1980 – republished with a new introduction in 1998)

“The gold-standard when it comes to assessing industries, understanding competitors and choosing a competitive position. A seminal work that has transformed the way managers think and act.” Joo-Lee Aw – The People At Work / AltoPartners Shanghai

12. Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step by Edward De Bono (2015)

“A great way to shake up you and your team’s problem-solving techniques using classic De Bono techniques.” Joo-Lee Aw – The People At Work / AltoPartners Shanghai

13. Turn This Ship Around by L. David Marquet (2012)

“Anyone who doubts that leadership alone can make a difference should read Captain Marquet’s account of how he turned a group of underdogs and underperformers from the worst crew in the US Submarine corps, to the best. This book will provoke, delight and inspire you to empower people to lead so that they relish the increased responsibility and can make good decisions independently.” Dr Thomas Heyn – Jack Russell Consulting/ AltoPartners Germany

14. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg (2014)

“Invaluable insights from a Pulitzer prize winner for anyone who needs to kick bad habits or develop good ones. A compelling and fascinating read on the science of habits and how they are formed.” Sandra Olive – Bäcker Backer & Partners/ AltoPartners Argentina

15. The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels by Michael D. Watkins (2003)

“This classic from Harvard Business School Press offers excellent advice and insights for anyone transitioning into a new role. My go-to book for CEOs navigating a potentially tricky situation in which they need to secure critical early wins.” Sonal Agrawal – Accord Group/ AltoPartners India

What book changed your life? We’d love to hear from you.