Each week, Louise Teboul, Operations Director for Birmingham and the Midlands at Common Purpose UK, hosts a #TalkLeadership hour on Twitter. #TalkLeadership encourages our connections online to join in an open conversation about all things leadership – from inclusion, to self-care practices that help leaders look after their wellbeing. We recently discussed books and podcasts that have impacted the way we think and act as leaders. 

We received lots of recommendations and have compiled a list of ten books and podcasts that provide insights, ideas and strategies to help people grow and develop their leadership skills. Some are bestsellers that you might have heard of – or read already – others are less well-known.   Whether you’re about to step into your first leadership position, beginning a journey of personal development, or are an experienced senior leader, there’s something that each of us can learn from in this list.

  1. Daring to Lead by Brené Brown

    “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,” says Brené Brown.

    In Dare to Lead, Brené Brown uses her decades of research and knowledge to provide a practical guide to courageous leadership. The book aims to challenge what you think you know about brave leadership and give its readers actionable tools for choosing to be courageous over comfortable.

    Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, describes the book as, “A road map for anyone who wants to lead mindfully, live bravely, and dare to lead.”

  2. Rebel Ideas by Matthew Syed

    “Great teams rarely happen by accident; they happen by design. And that design is rooted in the motivational and strategic bonds that tie them together. But what makes true cohesion? How do you create the right combination of skills in team members? Does information flow between them in a fluent way? Are their actions harmoniously coordinated?”

    In Rebel Ideas, Matthew Syed goes on a journey to understand ‘Superteams’ with evidence from a huge variety of contexts – from nuclear submarines, to Silicon Valley, to Mount Everest.

    Drawing from the latest research in psychology, systems theory, economics, and neuroscience, Matthew Syed shows how environments can be consciously engineered for teams to gel. And how, in high performing teams, the knowledge, ideas and information used by different individuals can yield successes far beyond the strategic skill or performance of any single member.

    The book covers everything from echo chambers to evidence-based examples of the impact of the lack of diversity, to how our ego, and self-esteem, make us crave being with ‘like-minded’ people.

  3. Feel Better, Live More podcast by Dr Chatterjee

    Having practised medicine for almost 20 years, Dr Chatterjee says his mission is to help “people feel fantastic by restoring them to optimal health.” He aims to empower his listeners to become ‘architects’ of their own health. He explains, “Because when you feel better, you live more.”

    Dr Chatterjee’s podcast features stories from leading health professionals and personalities who offer simple health life-hacks, expert advice and debunk common health myths to give people the tools they need to change how they eat, sleep, move and relax. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

  4. In Praise of Slow by Carl Honore

    “Faster is not always better.”

    In Praise of Slow takes a look at our urge to hurry, our strain to be more efficient and why we strive to live and work so fast today. It’s a great read for this moment in time, when many of us, are being forced to work in different ways.

    The book tells of human kind’s ‘increasingly breathless’ relationship with time and examines the costs of living in this way. Throughout, Carl Honore explores what could be the cure, and chronicles a global trend toward putting on the brakes.

  5. Dream Big podcast by Bob Goff

    Bob Goff is the author of the New York Times best-selling book of 2009 Love Does. His podcast Dream Big recognizes that most people never give themselves permission or know how to chase their big ambitions.

    Each episode, Bob invites his friends to share their own stories of chasing their big ambitions and the obstacles they have encountered along the way. The podcast aims to provide listeners with a ‘Dream Big Framework’ to help them discover, declare, and realize their ambitions so they can impact the world for good.

  6. Start with Why by Simon Sinek

    Simon Sinek believes that people are inspired by a sense of purpose – the reason why we are doing something.

    In his book Start with Why, Simon shares the idea of ‘The Golden Circle’ which offers a framework – starting with exploring the why – and upon which organizations can be built, leaders can create movements, and people can be inspired. Throughout, he illustrates a plethora of real-life stories, and paints a picture of what it really takes to lead and inspire others.

  7. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

    There’s a danger that Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, is viewed as a book on ‘women’s leadership’ but it would be equally valuable for men trying to address gender balance.

    The statistics, although an improvement on previous decades, are certainly not in women's favour; of 197 heads of state, only 22 are women. Women hold just 20 percent of seats in parliaments globally, and in the world of big business, a meagre 18 of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women.

    Sandberg draws on her own experience of working in some of the world's most successful businesses and looks at what women can do to help themselves, and make the small changes in their life that can effect change on a more universal scale.

    Learning to 'lean in' is about tackling the anxieties and preconceptions that stop women reaching the top – taking a place at the table, and making yourself a part of the debate.

  8. Dear Ijeawele by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    Written in the form of a letter, Dear Ijeawele is a short novel by Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Originally intended as Chimamanda’s response to her friend Ijeawele who wrote to ask how she should bring her daughter up a feminist, Dear Ijeawele explores topics such as the prejudices of gender roles and inequality, and how women - and men - can lead through such challenges.

  9. Radical Candor by Kim Scott

    In Radical Candor, Kim Scott, former CEO Coach at Dropbox and Twitter, and Executive at Google and Apple, draws on years of experience in Silicon Valley to provide clear and honest guidance on leadership, to transform your relationships at work.

    Scott provides ideas and practical steps to develop real candor in teams, through ‘caring personally’ and building trust, but without succumbing to ‘ruinous empathy’. This is not for the faint-hearted though – you have to be open to the radical candor, as a manager/boss, before you are able to build trust to deliver it to your teams. There are many practical tips to help with performance management and giving feedback, including managing teams remotely.

  10. The EntreLeadership Podcast

    Hosted by Business Coach, Alex Judd, each episode of the EntreLeadership Podcast shares advice on leadership and business and features conversations with thought leaders such as Simon Sinek, Seth Godin, and Jim Collins.

#TalkLeadership takes place each Monday from 12pm-1pm (BST) over on our Common Purpose UK Twitter account. You can join in by using the hashtag.

Some additional recommendations from those who joined our #TalkLeadership hour:


  • Anyway, The Paradoxical Commandments by Kent M Keith
  • Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
  • Fish Philosophy by Stephen C Lundin, Harry Paul and John Christensen
  • Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H Pink
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
  • Linchpin by Seth Godin
  • Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
  • Year of Yes by Shona Rhimes
  • Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
  • Make Your Bed by William H McRaven
  • To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee
  • Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
  • Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown
  • Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss
  • Nudge by Richard Thaler
  • Inside the Nudge Unit by David Halpern
  • The Chimp Paradox by Professor Stephen Peters
  • The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
  • Principles by Ray Dalio
  • Finest Years - Churchill as Warlord by Max Hastings
  • Into Thin Air by John Krakauer
  • Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  • Outliers by Malcom Gladwell
  • Freakanomics by Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner
  • Viral Change by Leandro Herrero
  • Time to Think by Nancy Kline
  • Beyond Authority by Julia Middleton
  • The Meaning of Things by Prof AC Grayling
  • The 100 Year Life by Lynda Gratton & Andrew Scott
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig
  • An Examined Life by Stefan Grosz
  • Good to Great by Jim Collins


  • The Tony Robbins Podcast
  • Kwik Brain with Jim Kwik
  • Hidden Brain
  • The Mindvalley Podcast with Vishen Lakhian