10 Books To Help You Grow as a Leader and Improve Employee Experience

At Ogilvy, we have witnessed a growing number of projects that are focused on designing better digital experiences to improve the employee experience. This uptick is no surprise when research clearly correlates a positive employee experience with strong company performance. When employees are happy, they generate better customer service and improve brand loyalty.

I’ve been thinking a lot about employee experience and what influences it. Without a doubt, organizational leadership is a critical facet to driving positive experiences. Great leaders recognize the value of their people, understand how to play to their respective strengths, and choose to help them on their journey.

It’s my firm belief that leadership comes in all forms, and it’s a vocation you must actively choose. Leadership cannot be accidental. Once you’ve chosen to lead, you need to invest in yourself and others in order to grow. The choice of leadership is an ongoing process, and it can often require counsel from trusted sources. In addition to asking questions of our employees and other leaders, I also turn to books that question previously held assumptions regarding leadership, organizational structures, communication methods, and human behavior.

My top 10 inspirational books for leaders:

The Art of  Power by Thich Nhat Hanh
A Vietnamese Buddhist monk and prolific author, Hanh deeply questions traditionally held notions of power and how we can reframe our relationship to it.

The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki
If, as leaders, we are willing to listen, the psychology and knowledge inherent in groups can be powerfully instructive.

Decisive: How to Make Better Decisions in Life and Work by Dan and Chip Heath
We make thousands of decisions each day, but do we understand the inherent bias and logic in our decision-making processes?

Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux and Ken Wilber
Early pioneers in outlining organizational maturity levels of 20th and 21st centuries, Laloux and Wilber argue that old models of industrial work are no longer compatible with the complex needs of modern organizations.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
Entertaining and enlightening, Duhigg of The New York Times outlines the pattern of human habits, illustrating how one can create healthier habits while quitting negative ones.

The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership: A New Paradigm for Sustainable Success by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman, and Kaley Klemp
Read in pieces or as a whole, each commitment provides a radical challenge against “business as usual” behavior and frames leadership as an active choice.

No Barriers: A Blind Man’s Journey to Kayak the Grand Canyon by Erik Weihenmayer and Buddy Levy
Simultaneously inspiring and powerful, Weihenmayer shares his experience as a blind man learning how to kayak the Grand Canyon, arguing that the barriers we create for ourselves are largely in the mind.

To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink
Pink debunks the stereotype of selling as a sleazy activity and proposes that selling is baked into our human nature, sharing compelling anecdotes and practical tips for the sales-averse professional.

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by General Stanley McChrystal, Tantum Collins, David Silverman, and Chris Fussell
Fighting a decentralized al-Qaeda required the military to rethink its own internal hierarchical structure, favoring a more nimble, networked structure – such lessons are incredibly applicable for the modern business world.

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight: A tale of passion, timing, luck, and resilience that reminds us all: building a business is as much an art as it is a science.

How are you actively growing as a leader? Are you implementing positive changes in your business that help your employees do their jobs better? If you have a challenge you’d like to discuss, we’d love to hear from you. Reach out at