15 Must-Read Books for Women in Leadership

Marie Di Virgilio and Tracey Cantarutti Leadership


Below is our 2013 list of books for women in leadership. Find the 2014 list at this link.

Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In caused a stir in the literary world earlier this year, sparking conversations across every continent, from high school classrooms to the board rooms of the world’s most powerful organizations. But Sandberg’s book certainly wasn’t the first to challenge women to reach for greater and greater positions of leadership.

Not long ago our faculty and staff compiled a list of their top books on women in leadership. We share some of our favorites here.

If you are looking for “how to” books with exercises and templates for taking action, we recommend the three books listed below as a great companion to working with a leadership coach, or to be read in preparation for coaching:

  1. Breaking into the Boys’ Club: 8 Ways for Women to Move Ahead in Business by Molly Shephard, Jane Stimmler, and Peter Dean
  2. Unwritten Rules: What Women Need to Know About Leading in Today’s Organizations, by Lynn Harris
  3. The Tao of Womanhood: Ten Lessons for Power and Peace, by Diane Dreher

Beyond the three books mentioned above, we have found the following books to be thought-provoking and inspiring, for women at all ages and stages of their careers:

  1. What’s Holding You Back? 8 Critical Choices for Women’s Success, by Linda S. Austin
  2. Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide, by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever
  3. No Seat at the Table: How Corporate Governance Keeps Women Out of America’s Boardrooms, by Douglas Branson
  4. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg
  5. Women for Hire’s Get-Ahead Guide to Career Success, by Tory Johnson and Robyn Freedman Spizman
  6. Her Place at the Table: A Woman’s Guide to Negotiating Five Key Challenges to Leadership Success, by Deborah Kolb, Judith Williams and Carol Frohlinger
  7. A Woman’s Guide to Successful Negotiating: How to Convince, Collaborate, & Create Your Way to Agreement, by Lee E. Miller and Jessica Miller
  8. Standing at the Crossroads: Next Steps for High Achieving Women, by Marian Ruderman and Patricia Ohlott
  9. Through the Labyrinth: The Truth About How Women Become Leaders, by Linda Carli and Alice Eagly
  10. Double Outsiders: How Women of Color can Succeed in Corporate America, by Jessica Faye Carter, J.D., MBA
  11. Off-Ramps and On-Ramps: Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success, by Sylvia Ann Hewlett
  12. Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire: Business Sense and Sensibility, by Mireille Guiliano

Is your favorite missing? Leave us a note in the comments section below.


Dr. Marie E. Di Virgilio is the Administrative Director for the Center for Values-Driven Leadership. She brings over 30 years of business experience, much of it with Allstate Insurance Company, holding key leadership positions in sales, human resources, accounting, corporate education, and information technology.

Dr. Tracey L. Cantarutti is an executive coach and President of  TLC Leadership Options, Inc., whose mission is to help organizations equip their leaders for success. She can be reached at tcantarutti@gmail.com.


Looking to grow your own leadership capacity while leading your company? Learn more about our doctoral program in values-driven leadership, and our M.S. in values-driven leadership – designed for executives.


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