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  • Writer's pictureJackie Booth

Five female leadership books to read this summer

We’ve all heard that to be a successful leader in any field, you need to take time out for your own personal growth; in order to lead others well, you need to lead yourself first.

However, leadership isn’t typically something we’re ever taught. It comes from experience and time spent often making mistakes and discovering what not to do.

Yet we commonly underestimate how great we actually are. Women especially compare themselves unfavourably to others and get overwhelmed by perceptions of perfection they feel they need to attain.

If you’re an aspiring leader you might be looking at others and selling yourself very short.

That’s why leadership books are a simple and effective way to start to work out how you want your leadership to look. You can take the ideas, insights, tactics, and lessons from others and apply them to your own situation.

I’ve always been an avid reader but I must say, when you first start reading personal growth books it can be daunting to work out where to start, and even how you’re going to find time to fit it all in.

I found the habit of setting myself a time limit of just 15 minutes a day of personal development reading time. When the timer stops, I stop.

You’d be surprised how quickly you can get through a book and we can all strive to find just 15 minutes. Plus, this way you have the added benefit of it not becoming a chore and providing easily digestible chunks for you to absorb and reflect on until the next day.

To get you started, I want to share my top five inspiring, thoughtful and thought-provoking books that I also recommend to friends and clients. In fact, these are some of my personal favourites that I’ve read more than once.

Add these top five female leadership books to your summer reading list.

1. The Confidence Code by Katty Kay & Claire Shipman

The premise of the book is simple, how to boost your confidence by understanding your genetics.

The authors interviewed successful women leaders across all fields from sport to science, politics and entertainment to learn how and what makes them confident as well as what might undermine their confidence.

There are some great sections around the results of the interviews, especially with women who have achieved success and appear confident, as well as insightful differences between how women approach and perceive confidence compared to how men view it.

It’s a fascinating read that can help you make the most of your skills, knowledge and interests and there are so many gems of wisdom that I would definitely recommend reading it.

2. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

This is a fabulous book to read and return to whenever you’re creating something new as it looks at how to inject more creativity into our lives and how to deal with the fear that comes with stepping out of your comfort zone.

Gilbert believes that we all have creativity within us and encourages us to discover how we can bring more of that into our lives.

She talks about our attitudes and habits towards the things we are driven to create and the book is filled with great stories and anecdotes from her life and experiences.

No matter how many times I’ve read and dipped into this book, I always find new approaches that help me work on creating new projects and following seeds of ideas and intuition.

Anything that teaches you something new about yourself or helps you view something from a new perspective can’t be praised highly enough. Let’s face it, we all have something that we yearn to create and I’d encourage you to read this as a first step to getting started.

3. Untamed by Glennon Doyle

Quite simply, Untamed is a book that’s truly and unapologetically about being yourself. The book tagline is Stop pleasing, Start living and Doyle explores the joy and peace we discover when we stop striving to meet the expectations of the world and instead dare to listen and trust in ourselves.

By telling short stories (some only a few pages long) and sharing examples from her own experience, she shows us how to be brave, to be more yourself and to be fully alive. Some stories and messages were incredibly powerful such as how easy it is as women to bury who we are, to curb our imagination and intuition and to conform to what society expects of us.

Even when I finished reading it the first time, I found myself revisiting certain sections when I was reminded of something she said that related to my life and I wanted to look again from a new and different perspective.

Since then I’ve picked it up many times to remind myself about how inspiring and satisfying it is to learn more about yourself.

4. Self-Care for the Real World by Nadia Narain & Katia Narain Phillips.

Self-care is vitally and essentially important. As women, it’s a battle we face regularly as we hate putting ourselves first because we think it makes us look selfish or weak, and we feel guilty if we’ve not put everyone else’s needs before our own. Typically, we put ourselves at the bottom of the list in order to ensure everyone else is happy.

However, we all need a bit [actually a huge bit] of regular “me-time”.

Because this book is split into easy bite-sized chunks containing helpful hints, luscious recipes and a selection of ideas for everyone, it’s a great source of inspiration to have at hand to refer to on a regular basis.

It also doesn’t matter whether you’re new to the concept of self-care or an dab hand at it, the impact of taking time for yourself can never be underestimated.

5. Rising Strong by Brene Brown

Brené Brown has written several books about shame, vulnerability, empowering women, leadership, and personal growth, yet I love this one because it’s about embracing and celebrating the imperfect you.

Brown has a no-holds-barred way of exploring her own flaws, limitations and vulnerabilities that makes it ok for you to be less than perfectly put together yourself.

And she unapologetically talks about how she dealt with those times when life had thrown her a loop because, let’s face it, life has a habit of happening not quite as you expected.

Sometimes it can feel overwhelming to pick yourself up again. Yet we’ve all been there and the simple fact of witnessing someone else's story and their high and low points, can help you appreciate your own and what you’re actually capable of.

Honestly, I’d recommend any of her books but this one is definitely top of my list.

The benefits of reading female leadership books.

Expanding your knowledge and perspective, and changing your mindset are some of the great benefits of reading a self- development book. You can learn how to improve and enhance so many different aspects of your life as well as up-level your career and your leadership journey.

I hope these book ideas have heled you plan your summer reading list. One of the things I've learned over the years that when it comes to discovering more about leadership, is that no one book has the answer to everything. Like most things in life, you learn from different sources depending on where you are in your life at the time.

That's why, it's great to read as extensively as possible and keep going back to those authors that inspired you.

It’s sometimes surprising to see how much you’ll have grown each time you return, and which new nuggets you pick up on each subsequent re-read.

If you’re at a point where you’re aspiring to a new leadership role and want to chat it through with someone impartial, then get in touch; I’d love to help you clarify and achieve your career goals.

Jackie x

P.S. Want to discover the secrets that make leadership look easy, check out my blog “Leadership Secrets exposed; what you’re never taught in the workplace”.

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