16 Inspiring Books Women Leaders Need to be Reading

07/20/2016 03:13 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Currently, executive women hold about 4.6% of CEO positions in S&P 500 Companies. The list includes famous names such as General Motors' Mary Barra, Pepsico's Indra Nooyi and Oracle's co-CEO, Safra Catz.

We have long forgone the conventional trajectory of doing business. Enormous technological connectivity has enabled us access to information and knowledge has led to an evolution of global business environment. This evolution has taken women of ability in its purview to lead influential positions in Global organizations.

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Women are great communicators and today's information age require skilled communicators in all aspects of business. Their natural instinct to build relationships reflect in their career, and their relationship strategies have been seen to expand organizational network. They are great mentors and are capable of extensive multi-tasking. All these traits contribute towards strengthening organizational climate and increase corporate social responsibility and brand reputation.

Leadership doesn't happen overnight. It requires years of grooming to become smarter, stronger and better. Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsico once said, "Leadership is hard to define and good leadership even harder. But if you can get people to follow you to the ends of the earth, you are a great leader."

Managing the complex challenges that women have to face alongside their careers, is truly a difficult task. And there's no one-size-fits-all policy to get that right. However, reading about experiences penned down by women who have managed these challenges can go a long way in inspiring the inner leader in you.

1. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg
Speaking of challenges, Lean In makes a fantastic effort in uncovering issues and concerns of the modern day working woman; backed with anecdotes, and some compelling research. Through this book, she recollects her own struggles, mistakes and choices that have made her in every way the woman that she is. The book also provides practical guidance to negotiation techniques and mentorship. It's both a witty and an informative read for aspiring women who are willing to bridge the gap between who they are and who they want to be.

2. The Next Generation of Women Leaders: What You Need to Lead but Won't Learn in Business School by Selena Rezvani
The Next Generation of Women Leaders is a phenomenon and empowering collection of advice by 30 of the most successful women in the highest ranks in their respective fields. Richly illustrated with stories narrated by these extraordinary women, the book strives to inspire the inherent leadership qualities of today's women. The book offers a foreword by Gail Evans, the highest-ranking woman executive at CNN. A comprehensive bibliography of relevant reading material is just the icing on the cake for the readers.

3. Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers by Lois P. Frankel
The Don't-s are equally important as the Dos and at times it is the former, which when not managed properly, can take in all our aspirations like quick sand. Lois P Frankel's remarkable attempt to bring forth some of these unconscious mistakes in her Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office is worth a read for any woman entrepreneur on the make. In this book, she has mentioned 101 unique set of behaviors that a woman is imbibed with as a child; and how these can later sabotage them as adults. The book also offers invaluable coaching tips which one can easily incorporate into their business.

4. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
This book, while not being particularly specific to women, actually goes a long way to teach us about networking and relationship building skills. Sold more than 15 million copies since 1936, this book is filled with well-founded advice which has inspired and driven thousands of people to the top of their career ladders. Written and published more than 50 years back, this book still endures and helps people achieve their maximum potential in their lives.

5. How Remarkable Women Lead: The Breakthrough Model for Work and Life by Joanna Barsh, Geoffrey Lewis, Susie Cranston
This book which is based on proprietary research spanning over 5 years, has some rather interesting outlook on success. It explores a controversial issue like feminine leadership traits. The book features anecdotes and useful insights to explain five elements of centered leadership, namely, meaning, framing, connecting, engaging, and energizing. With inspiring stories of women leaders from some of the head-turning organizations like Morgan Stanley, Avon and Woolworth's, this book sure makes a compelling read.

6. Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie
Be it your own start-up or a position in your current job that you are willing to utilize to your advantage, this book by Blake Mycoskie takes you on an exhilarating journey of pursuing your passion by citing examples from his own company, TOMS Shoes and how he discovered his core story of being resourceful without resources. This book follows a great model to share with your children, friends and co-workers alike.

7. Secrets of Six-Figure Women: Surprising Strategies to Up Your Earnings and Change Your Life by Barbara Stanny
It is encouraging to know that the number of women making a six-figure remuneration is on the rise. A journalist and motivational speaker by profession, Barbara Stanny in her book, Secrets of Six-Figure Women identifies key strategies of these women high-earners. Featuring interviews with 150 women with annual remuneration ranging from $100,000 to $7 million, this book successfully captures and converts the traits of these women into strategies that one could use to up their income.

8. The Power of Unpopular: A Guide to Building Your Brand for the Audience Who Will Love You by Erika Napoletano
In this irreverent yet sincere attempt to take a stand and trying to understand why certain brands become a road kill, Erika Napoletano talks about Brand Advocacy which takes readers on an actionable journey, with concepts that can be easily blended in their business strategies. The book features interesting case studies for a better understanding of these concepts and explains important aspects like Community; and how to build yours. She teaches brands the power of passion and urges them to never shy away from turning some people away. It is a witty and hilarious read and reality-driven at the same time.

9. A Woman's Guide to Successful Negotiating, Second Edition Paperback by Lee E. Miller, Jessica Miller
A Woman's Guide to Successful Negotiating is a groundbreaking perspective that every woman can relate to and benefit from in their professional lives. This book provides you with easy negotiating techniques and discovers the three key elements of negotiation for women. With a realistic approach to situations, it is an informative and essential guide to getting everything you desire in life.

10. Through the Labyrinth: The Truth About How Women Become Leaders by Alice H. Eagly & Linda L. Carli
Through the Labyrinth discusses a woman's role in leadership and how they have broken barriers in order to work at the same level as men. If you want to read JUST one book to understand women and leadership, this will be it. By presenting a rather thoughtful account of barriers to women leadership, the authors, Alice and Linda has successfully explained the correlation between gender and leadership.

11. Breaking into the Boys' Club: 8 Ways for Women to Get Ahead in Business by Molly D. Shepard, Jane K. Stimmler, Peter Dean
This book is an interesting compilation of quizzes, stories, and tips to overcome business challenges. Penned by famous leadership coaches, this book is the most powerful guide to success for women in business. It is based on extensive research and covers important issues like women and their interpersonal relationship with their colleagues. The solutions given in this book are relatable and practical and can be used by women across all levels of the organization.

12. I Shouldn't Be Telling You This: Success Secrets Every Gutsy Girl Should Know by Kate White
This book offers a straight-forward career advice to women at all levels in their professional lives. The author's determination reflects in this witty and refreshing read and her advice is useful. The book is rife with enthusiasm and combines stories of challenges and successes. Whether you are a newbie or are resuming your career after a sabbatical, the bold strategies mentioned in this book is sure to win you over.

13. Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington
From the co-founder and editor-in-chief of one of the fastest growing media houses in the world comes a striking and yet, a deeply personal book where Arianna talks about her challenges of juggling business while being a mother of two daughters. The book relates to every woman who struggles to manage home and work every single day of their lives. Drawing on path-breaking research and findings, Arianna shows us the path to mindfulness and meditation and its effects on our lives, our workplace, and our culture.

14. Get Rich, Lucky Bitch! By Denise Duffield Thomas
Get Rich, Lucky Bitch is a journey of self-discovery which brings you at par with all those other women in the world who are learning to live their lives with abundance. It strives to take every woman away from the clutches of shame, guilt, embarrassment and all those factors which keep them from growing. It aims to teach every woman that they too have the universal right to wealth and it is up to them to break through their money blocks and make the money they deserve.

15. Coach Yourself to Success by Talane Miedaner
This book is a step-by-step guide to achieving personal and professional goals through important aspects like career, relationships, self-care, relationships, money management etc. It is an interactive book and has exercises and actionables for the readers after each chapter. A professional coach by profession and having coached and mentored hundreds of Fortune 500 employees, Talane provides tips that are easy to follow and live by.

16. See Jane Lead by Lois P Frankel
A book which provides career guidance to women; but this time the focus being on positive behavior - is the essence of See Jane Lead, also by Lois P Frankel. Another very interesting aspect of this book is how the author takes everyone by surprise when she offers tips to bring up daughters who want to lead later in life. Although the tips and suggestions mentioned in the book are nothing out of the ordinary, it definitely has the potential to get the reader to nod in agreement.

Which are the books on leadership that you think have been able to change the course of your life or career?