The 10 Books Every School Leader Should Read

Recently, I’ve been finding that I’m increasingly asked by the School Leaders I work with and by others who’ve read my book “Staying A Head: Stress Management Secrets for School Leaders” for recommendations as to what books can help them to further their learning and in turn, better support their leadership practice.
I’ve noticed more and more that I frequently refer leaders to the same books time and again, not for lack of ideas but rather because they are quite simply the best I’ve come ever come across in the field, in terms of both inspiration and expertise.
In fact, I recommend these books so frequently that I thought I’d create a list of these 1o books for you in case you ever need a great book to help alleviate the stress of the day-to-day and bring a sense of perspective back into their lives. I hope amongst the recommended titles, that you might find a book or two that you’d like to add to your reading list…

1. “The Element” – 

Ken Robinson

We all love Sir Ken Robinson and eagerly await the day when he is appointed Minister of Education! Until that day, we’ll all have to take comfort from his inspirational TED talks and this wonderful book. If you are ever in need of inspiration and a reminder of why you are a teacher or Headteacher then read this book.
It will make you laugh, it will make you smile, and it will remind you of what passion is all about and why each and every day you need to remain connected to what matters to you most.

2. “Resonant Leadership” – 

Richard Boyatziz and Annie Mckee

This book is a must for all stressed head teachers and School Leaders! It gets to the very core of what happens to leaders who are in ‘high power, high stress’ roles. It also talks with real compassion about what successful leaders need to do, to stop themselves become victims of the Sacrifice Syndrome.
A syndrome that is common to so many head teachers … that of sacrificing your own needs in order to meet the needs of others. If you want to know how to lead a far healthier and happier life as a School Leader, then this book should definitely be on your reading list.

3. “Thinking, Fast and Slow” –

 Daniel Kahneman

If you want to understand yourself better as a School Leader and exhibit greater control over your thoughts and actions, then this is the book for you! It may take you some time to plough through it, but what you will gain in the end, will be well worth the effort!

4. Mindset: How you can fulfil your potential – 

Dr Carol S.Dweck

I love this book!  If you have ever wondered why some teachers cause you more stress than others, then this book will definitely give you a few key insights. Dweck explains that “It’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success, but whether we approach our goals with a fixed or growth mindset.” 
When you understand the traits of each mindset, you will get a far better understanding of your staff team and how their behaviours impact on your efforts to drive forward school improvement.

5. “Well Being: The Five Essential Elements” –

 Tom Rath and Jim Harther

Co-written by #1 New York Times bestselling author Tom Rath, this book takes ‘five universal, interconnected elements that shape our lives:  Career Wellbeing, Social Wellbeing, Financial Wellbeing, Physical Wellbeing, and Community Wellbeing.” If you want to give yourself a personal MOT over a weekend or holiday period,  then this is another book to add to your list.

6. “Daring Greatly” – 

Brene Brown

For any School Leader this is a must read. It is a book that I recommend to all head teachers and senior leaders that I work with.  Brene Brown reminds us that contrary to commonly perceived wisdom on the subject, vulnerability is more a sign of courage and strength, than it is a sign of weakness.
Her writings and insight on the subject are like a breath of fresh air. In an educational climate in which so many false and conflicting messages about strength in leadership abound, Brene Brown shows us how the ability to be vulnerable reconnects us with our humanity and it is here, where we find our strength.

7. “Leading out of Who You Are” –

  Simon P Walker

How many of us, would like to be able to lead from a place where we truly trust ourselves? Where we were not knocked from pillar to post by the opinions and advice of others, but were able to lead from a place of deep inner trust and self belief?
From my own experience as a Headteacher and from the work that I now do as an Executive Coach for School Leaders, I know  it is a place that we all long to be able to lead from. In his sensitively written book on the subject of leadership, Simon P Walker provides an excellent overview of the inner journey every leader needs to go on, if they are ever to experience true inner trust and self belief.

8. “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” – 

 Stephen R Covey

An all time favourite. If you haven’t read this book, then it really is one that you should go out and buy now. Not only will his seven habits help you to develop the tools to lead yourself better, but hey will also help you to understand how you can get the best out of those that you lead and manage.
When you read his book you will have no doubt about how you can excel as a School Leader and equally what others will need from you so that they can also excel.

9. “Every  Teacher Matters” –

 Kathryn Lovewell

As a School Leader you know that your teachers are your most valuable resource. You will also know from your own experience as a classroom teacher the types of stress that many of your teachers face and the impact that it has on their ability to perform well.
If you want to give your teachers really practical advice on managing stress then buy this book for each and every one of them.  Kathryn’s book will show them how mindfulness not only reduces stress , but also helps to re-ignite a sometimes forgotten passion for teaching.

10. “Supporting the Emotional Work of School Leaders” –

 Belinda Harris

In those dark times, when the pressures of the role seem insurmountable, this book will remind you that you are not alone! Harris’ book is an honest account of what it really means to be a School Leader today, ‘exploring the personal, social and emotional challenges of School Leadership.’
If you are seeking to develop your own emotional resilience this book will provide you with a few tools to help you bounce back that much higher when the inevitable challenges of School Leadership come your way.

“Staying A Head – Stress Management Secrets of Successful School Leaders” by Viv Grant


Are you a school leader? Do you want to know how to maintain your ability to lead and inspire others without sacrificing your own well being?
“Staying A Head” is widely considered the book for School Leaders who want practical and informative ways to overcome the challenges of their roles.

Every School Leader should read this book because it opens the closed world that many School Leaders inhabit. But rather than leave the world ‘exposed’, it offers new and experienced School Leaders practical and effective methods that nurture inner understanding to bring out the best in others and foster organisational transformation.

Mike Jones

Head teacher, South Failsworth Primary School, Oldham

If you’d like to get a flavour of the book. then you can now download a completely free Chapter of my book! In this chapter, you’ll discover why the meeting of your emotional needs are central to your success as a School Leader and find answers to the questions:

– What are our basic emotional needs?
– Why do School Leaders need to have their emotional needs met?
– What are the consequences of unmet emotional needs?
– What role does empathic listening play in meeting emotional needs?

To download your copy of this chapter, simply follow the link below…

Download a Free Chapter of “Staying A Head”



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