People & Leadership

13 must-read books to inspire women on their leadership journey


It’s  important to amplify and learn from the stories of women in leadership—what their journey’s look like, challenges they face, and ways to overcome them—for a more inclusive and equal future.

In the Sage Book Club series, business experts share their top must-read books to inspire women along their leadership journey.

“In the workplace, we should all choose to challenge anything that does not seem right or promotes inequalities,” Nicole Davis shared during our recent Twitter Chat. “I’d like to see a ratio of women in tech and leadership that is more representative of the population.”

Sage CEO Steve Hare agrees, adding that “It’s not just about providing the right opportunities, but also creating a culture in which women feel valued and empowered to thrive.”

Here are 13 must-read inspirational books our experts recommended to help empower women on their leadership journey.

Recommended by Nancy Tichbon, EVP and Managing Director, Sage Canada

  1. Unlocking Leadership Mindtraps: How to Thrive in Complexity by Jennifer Garvey Berger

This must-read book explores five typical human quirks called ‘mental traps’ that hinder our personal growth when navigating complexities in today’s world, offering practice tools to help us navigate new opportunities, create new solutions, and ultimately change the ways in which we think.

  1. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins

Good to Great is an insightful management book that explores what it takes for average companies to become great and outperform their competitors in a progressive and sustainable way.

Recommended by Kay Dexter, Marketing Strategist, Sage 

  1. Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success by Sylvia Ann Hewlett

This book serves as a blueprint on the journey to leadership growth and identity, uncovering the three most important qualities that aspiring top-tier leaders should have in order to embody the ‘executive presence’ they want those around them to see.

  1. The Little Black Book of Success: Laws of Leadership for Black Women by Elaine Meryl Brown, Marsha Haygood, and Rhonda McLean

Rich with wisdom, three successful Black female executives uncover the building blocks of leadership as women climb up the corporate ladder, sharing their top strategies on how to play the power of the game, despite racial stereotypes and obstacles they’ve faced along the way.

Recommended by Laurie McCabe, Co-Founder of SMB Group

  1. Alpha Girls: The Women Upstarts Who Took on Silicon Valley’s Male Culture and Made the Deals of a Lifetime by Julian Guthrie

An empowering, untold story on how a group of female tech venture capitalists achieved success in a male-dominated industry and helped shape the tech landscape we know today—detailing the prevalent issues of the gender pay gap and misogyny commonly experienced by working women around the world.

Recommended by Aqsa Zubair, Co-Founder of Cryptocamp

  1. Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Start with Why is an inspiration book that encourages leaders to do more of what inspires them with actionable steps on how to adapt this practice to motivate others. “It helps shape the way you think and address problems,” Zubair shared.

  1. The Likeability Trap: How to Break Free and Succeed as You Are by Alicia Menendez

“This book speaks about reinventing the pre-conceived notion of how women should behave,” explained Zubair.

  1. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Lean In examines common challenges women continue to face in a predominantly male workforce, with empowering tips on how to take charge of their own careers, balance work and motherhood, and push forward at a time when gender bias still exists.

Recommended by Nicole Davis, CPA and Co-Founder of Butler-Davis Tax and Accounting

  1. Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

Encouraging readers to not settle for less than they intended to negotiate, a former international hostage negotiator for the FBI recounts his stories of high-stake negotiations, revealing pivotal skills that helped him succeed in and outside of the boardroom. “The confidence our male counterparts have is admirable. Men ask for what they want and usually get it. Women should do the same and not feel any type of way about it,” Davis argues.

  1. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

This is the perfect self-help book for artistic people who have the flair but lack the confidence in harnessing their creative talents, with step-by-step wisdom on how to re-connect your “inner artist” and succeed.

  1. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

A humorous collection of personal essays based on actor Mindy Kaling’s life, with relatable stories centered around being a person of color in the workforce, entitlement, and approval from others.

  1. Becoming by Michelle Obama

Written by former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, this deeply personal memoir walks us through her journey of finding her voice in a discriminatory society, relaying her life and helping women who dream big to live theirs.

  1. You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero

Want to learn how to stop doubting your greatness and live your best life? In this hilarious and thought-provoking book, you’ll be empowered to transform the way you live your life and learn how to become the happiest version of yourself—prioritizing what you want to do, not what others think you should do.

More Sage Book Club reading lists:


Do you have a book recommendation? Share it with us in the comments.

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