The 5 Best Leadership Books for Women

In the world of business and leadership, the voices of women have often been overlooked.

However, the tide is changing, and more women are taking up leadership roles, breaking barriers, and making significant contributions to various industries.

In this article, we will explore some of the best leadership books for women, offering a comprehensive review of each to help you choose the ones that resonate with your leadership journey.

The Best Leadership Books for Women

1. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Quote from the Book

“Conditions for all women will improve when there are more women in leadership roles giving strong and powerful voice to their needs and concerns.”

Summary and Key Points

“Lean In” is a compelling book written by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook.

It is a call to action for women to assert themselves in the workplace and strive for leadership roles.

The book discusses the challenges women face in the professional world, including gender stereotypes and biases.

Sandberg encourages women to “lean in” to their careers, take risks, and pursue their goals with assertiveness and confidence.

She also emphasizes the importance of achieving a balance between professional and personal life and advocates for more supportive workplaces that value both male and female employees equally.

Personal Takeaways

  • Embrace Ambition: Sandberg’s call to “lean in” is a reminder to embrace ambition and not shy away from leadership roles. It’s a call to action to step up, take risks, and pursue our goals with determination.
  • Overcome Self-Doubt: The book highlights the importance of overcoming self-doubt and not letting fear hold us back. It’s a reminder to ask ourselves, “What would I do if I weren’t afraid?” and then go do it.
  • Equality in Relationships: Sandberg emphasizes the importance of having a supportive partner who shares domestic responsibilities. This is a crucial factor in enabling women to pursue their careers.

Who This Book Is For

“Lean In” is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the gender dynamics in the workplace.

It’s particularly valuable for women who are looking to advance their careers and for men who want to understand the challenges their female colleagues face.

It’s also beneficial for leaders and HR professionals who are committed to creating more equitable workplaces.

Pros and Cons


  • Provides practical advice for women to advance their careers.
  • Encourages women to take risks and step into leadership roles.
  • Highlights the importance of gender equality in the workplace.


  • Some may feel the book places too much responsibility on women to change the status quo.
  • The advice may not resonate with everyone, particularly those who are not in corporate settings.
  • Some critics argue that Sandberg’s perspective is limited due to her privileged position.

2. Dare to Lead by Brene Brown

Quote from the Book

“Leadership is not about titles or the corner office. It’s about the willingness to step up, put yourself out there, and lean into courage. The world is desperate for braver leaders. It’s time for all of us to step up.”

Summary and Key Points

Dare to Lead is a transformative exploration of what it means to be a leader in the modern world.

Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, challenges conventional wisdom about leadership and argues for a more empathetic, vulnerable approach.

The book is divided into four parts: Rumbling with Vulnerability, Living into Our Values, Braving Trust, and Learning to Rise.

In the first part, Brown discusses the importance of vulnerability in leadership, debunking common myths that associate vulnerability with weakness.

She emphasizes that daring leadership requires emotional exposure and courage.

The second part focuses on the importance of living into our values.

Brown argues that leaders must not only identify their core values but also practice them in their daily lives.

In the third part, Brown introduces the concept of “BRAVING Trust,” a seven-part framework for building trust in teams.

She emphasizes the importance of boundaries, reliability, accountability, vault (keeping confidences), integrity, non-judgment, and generosity.

The final part of the book, Learning to Rise, discusses how to handle failures and setbacks.

Brown encourages leaders to embrace their emotions and avoid offloading them onto others.

Personal Takeaways

“Dare to Lead” is a powerful call to embrace vulnerability and empathy in leadership.

It challenges the traditional image of a leader as an invulnerable figure and instead promotes a leadership style that is human, compassionate, and courageous.

The book’s emphasis on living into our values and building trust resonates deeply with me.

It’s a reminder that leadership is not about power or control, but about serving others and fostering a culture of trust and respect.

Who This Book Is For

Dare to Lead is for anyone who aspires to lead with courage and authenticity.

Whether you’re a seasoned executive, a budding entrepreneur, or someone looking to make a difference in your community, this book offers valuable insights into how to lead with empathy and integrity.

Pros and Cons


  • Offers a fresh perspective on leadership that emphasizes vulnerability and empathy.
  • Provides practical tools and strategies for building trust and living into your values.
  • Backed by extensive research and real-world examples.


  • Some readers may find the emphasis on vulnerability and emotion in leadership challenging to apply in traditional corporate environments.
  • The book’s concepts require deep introspection and personal work, which may not appeal to everyone.
  • Some readers may find the book repetitive at times.

3. Lead from the Outside by Stacey Abrams

Quote from the Book

“Leadership is not about knowing everything—it’s about the ability to learn anything.”

Summary and Key Points

This is a self-help book and memoir by Stacey Abrams, the former Democratic leader of the Georgia House of Representatives.

The book is a guide for minorities and outsiders who aspire to leadership roles.

Abrams shares her experiences and provides practical advice on how to overcome obstacles and achieve success.

She emphasizes the importance of self-knowledge, self-acceptance, and creativity in navigating systems that were not designed for outsiders.

The book also includes workbook exercises and resources to help readers plan their path to success.

Key Points:

  • Abrams advocates for bold action despite fear and failure. She encourages readers to voice their desires and ambitions and to counter negativity with self-belief.
  • She discusses the concept of “hacking” the system, finding ways to achieve goals outside of traditional means.
  • Abrams outlines four types of mentors: situational, sponsor, advisor, and peer, and explains how broadening one’s understanding of mentorship can provide access to resources and information.
  • She addresses the influence of money on social mobility and the importance of financial literacy.
  • Abrams introduces a tool called power mapping to help readers clarify their goals and find a solid way forward.

Personal Takeaways

  1. The idea of “hacking” the system resonated with me. It’s a reminder that traditional paths to success may not work for everyone, and it’s okay to find your own way.
  2. The importance of mentorship in various forms was a significant takeaway. It’s not just about having one mentor; different types of mentors can provide different kinds of support and insight.
  3. The concept of power mapping is a practical tool that can be used to gain perspective and clarify goals.

Who This Book Is For

This book is for anyone who feels like an outsider in their field or society.

It’s especially relevant for minorities and those who aspire to leadership roles but feel hindered by systemic barriers.

It’s also for anyone interested in social justice, politics, and leadership.

Pros and Cons


  • Provides practical advice and exercises to help readers plan their path to success.
  • Offers a unique perspective on leadership from an outsider’s point of view.
  • Addresses important topics like systemic barriers, financial literacy, and mentorship.


  • Some readers might find the book too focused on American politics.
  • The book might not resonate with those who already hold privileged positions in society.
  • Some may find the workbook exercises too prescriptive or not applicable to their situation.

4. Ask For It by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever

Quote from the Book

“If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.”

Summary and Key Points

“Ask For It” is a practical guide written by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever that aims to empower women in their personal and professional lives.

The book is based on the premise that women often don’t get what they want because they simply don’t ask for it.

It provides a four-phase program for women to become more assertive and confident in asking for what they deserve.

Key Points:

  1. The Power of Negotiation: The authors emphasize the importance of negotiation in everyday life and how it can lead to better outcomes in various situations.
  2. Overcoming Socialization: The book discusses how societal norms and expectations often discourage women from asking for what they want and provides strategies to overcome these barriers.
  3. The Four-Phase Program: The authors present a step-by-step guide to becoming more assertive, which includes knowing what you want, deciding to negotiate, planning your strategy, and reviewing your performance.
  4. Real-Life Examples: The book is filled with real-life examples and case studies that illustrate the principles and strategies discussed.

Personal Takeaways

“Ask For It” is a transformative read that has significantly impacted my perspective on negotiation and assertiveness.

It has made me realize the importance of standing up for myself and asking for what I deserve.

The four-phase program is particularly helpful and provides a clear roadmap to becoming more assertive.

The real-life examples and case studies make the concepts easy to understand and apply in everyday life.

Who This Book Is For

This book is primarily aimed at women who want to become more assertive and confident in their personal and professional lives.

However, it can also be beneficial for anyone looking to improve their negotiation skills and become more assertive.

Pros and Cons


  • Provides practical strategies and tips for becoming more assertive
  • Includes real-life examples and case studies
  • Easy to understand and apply in everyday life
  • Empowering and transformative


  • Some may find the book to be too focused on women, although the principles can be applied by anyone
  • The book may seem repetitive at times

5. Own It by Sallie Krawcheck

Quote from the Book

“Investing in women is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.”

Summary and Key Points

Own It is a powerful and inspiring book written by Sallie Krawcheck, a former Wall Street executive.

The book is a call to action for women to take control of their financial futures and to embrace their power in the workplace.

Krawcheck shares her experiences and insights from her time in the male-dominated world of Wall Street, providing practical advice and strategies for women to succeed in their careers.

Key Points:

  1. Embrace the Power of Diversity: Krawcheck emphasizes the importance of diversity in the workplace, not just in terms of gender, but also in terms of thought and experience. She argues that diverse teams are more innovative and make better decisions.
  2. Invest in Women: Krawcheck highlights the economic power of women and encourages businesses to invest in women, both as employees and as consumers.
  3. Take Control of Your Financial Future: Krawcheck provides practical advice on how women can take control of their financial futures, including investing and saving for retirement.
  4. Leverage Your Strengths: Krawcheck encourages women to leverage their unique strengths, such as empathy and collaboration, to succeed in the workplace.

Personal Takeaways

Reading “Own It” was an empowering experience.

Krawcheck’s insights into the world of finance and business were enlightening, and her advice was practical and actionable.

Her emphasis on the power of diversity and the importance of investing in women resonated deeply with me.

I was particularly inspired by her call to action for women to take control of their financial futures.

This book has motivated me to be more proactive in managing my finances and to embrace my unique strengths in the workplace.

Who This Book Is For

“Own It” is a must-read for all women, regardless of their career stage or industry.

It’s also a valuable read for men who want to understand the challenges women face in the workplace and how they can support gender diversity.

Furthermore, it’s a great resource for business leaders and managers who are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in their organizations.

Pros and Cons


  • Provides practical and actionable advice for women to succeed in their careers
  • Highlights the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace
  • Offers valuable insights into the world of finance and business


  • Some readers might find the book too focused on the financial industry
  • The advice might not be applicable to all industries or career stages
  • Some readers might find the book’s tone too assertive or direct


Leadership is not a one-size-fits-all concept, and the journey to becoming a successful leader is unique for everyone.

The books we’ve reviewed in this article provide a diverse range of perspectives, experiences, and advice, all aimed at empowering women in leadership roles.

Whether you’re just starting your leadership journey or you’re a seasoned leader looking for fresh insights, these books offer valuable lessons that can help you navigate your path.

Remember, the key to effective leadership lies in continuous learning and growth.

So, pick up one (or more) of these books, and let the journey of learning and empowerment begin.