Leadership Books for People Who Don’t Like Leadership Books

I don’t like most books about leadership technique. Never have.

Whether it’s the 21 Laws of This or That, or 5 Steps to a Whatever, I find these kinds of books to be mechanical, corporate, and not much use.

However, knowing that this is a personal blind spot, I still try to read at least one book about leadership each year. Over the years I’ve read – believe it or not – some good ones. So, here’s a list of five good books about leadership for people who don’t like books about leadership (in no particular order)…

The Road to Character – David Brooks

This is a book less about techniques, and more about the values that should drive us as leaders. Packed with examples from history, and some very helpful insights.


The Contemplative Pastor – Eugene Peterson

Peterson is the immunisation shot all pastors should get to stave off the virus of a corporate CEO mentality. This book refocuses us on the basics of ministry, challenges us to not become soothing chaplains of an unbiblical culture, and also reminds us to refrain from trying to do God’s job for Him.


How Your Church Family Works – Peter Steinke

This is a book about emotional systems, and how people (and groups) deal with anxiety. It’s one of those books that clarifies and names reality in a very sharp way. Eye-opening and challenging.


The Work of the Pastor – William Still

A delightfully grumpy book, which as the KJV would put it, has the effect of girding one’s loins. A work of gruff conviction, and a very inspiring to read.


The Undefended Leader – Simon P. Walker

This is the book (or 3 books, depending on the version you buy) on this list which is most clearly focused on the inner life of the leader. It’s liable to touch on some nerves, but it’s hugely worthwhile when it comes to processing the effect leadership has on our inner world, and vice versa.



2 thoughts on “Leadership Books for People Who Don’t Like Leadership Books

  1. Interesting…you’ve gone for a certain type of leadership there. I love leadership books – studied it at Uni & have been passionate about it in ministry & life. Trying to think of others I would suggest – the first 3 that came to mind are:
    Spiritual Leadership – J Oswald Sanders

    If you’ve not read it, you must. Super stuff & a Kiwi to boot!

    The Conviction to Lead – Al Mohler

    I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this. It’s recent, so covers current issues in leadership too.

    Don’t be afraid of leadership books that aren’t written by Christians – there’s still much you can learn, although you’ll have to filter with a Biblical lens.

    Shackleton’s Way – Margot Morrell

    This is excellent. Read this & watch the Kenneth Brannagh film ‘Shackleton’ & you’ll get a good idea.

    I’d also recommend most stuff that Bill Hybels and also Tom Peters have written on leadership – popular level, but they’re on the right track with it.

    Am sure there are others that I’d recommend, but those were my off the cuff responses when I read your post (some of yours, I’ll have to read too!). Wiersbe’s ‘The Integrity Crisis’ has just come to mind too.

  2. Sorry Ben, I just saw this comment got caught in the system for some reason.

    Sanders was the one I came closest to including. Agreed – it’s fantastic. I also enjoyed parts of the Mohler book. Will look at the others.

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