If you are anything like me, you are devoted to learning so I hope you really get value from reading this post on the best books for school principals. These great educational leadership books have influenced my own practice deeply.

We have also read many of these books within the Mastermind. When choosing books for school leaders I intentionally select texts that are from outside our industry. I do this for 2 reasons:

  1. We tend to suffer from industry group think
  2. Leadership is leadership. It doesn’t matter where you lead; it matters how you lead. Let’s learn from the best no matter where they are.

I  didn’t include it in the list, but I wrote a book that was a #1 Hot New Release on Amazon. You can check out The Better Leaders Better Schools Roadmap here.

The BLBS Roadmap was a hot new release on Amazon

The List: Best Books for school principals

Build Leadership Momentum: How to Create the Perfect Principal Entry Plan

Author: Daniel Bauer

This is my third book.

And it’s just in time for newly hired principals.

You’ve got the contract …

You’ve got the keys …

Now what?

This book will show you exactly how to create your “perfect” principal entry plan and set you up for success.

But this book is not just for new principals. Veterans looking for a leadership edge or veterans who never were taught how to create a solid 90-day entry plan will benefit from this book as well.

This book just launched, so there are some really fun bonuses you can grab before May 23, 2023.

Mastermind: Unlocking Talent Within Every School Leader

Author: Daniel Bauer

To date, I am most proud of creating this book. It unpacks at a high level why masterminds work and why they are a) an opportunity for high quality professional development for school leaders and b) an answer to the leadership retention problem schools and districts face.

In this book, I introduce the idea of the ABCs of powerful professional development™ and how leaders can level up the PD they provide and invest in for themselves by integrating more authenticity, belonging, and challenge. 

Inclusive Conversations

Author: Mary Frances-Winters

This book was recommended to me by some high level coaches and leaders.

From the publisher:

 “Award-winning diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant Mary-Frances Winters has been leading workshops on what she calls Bold, Inclusive Conversations for years. In this book she offers specific dialogue strategies to foster greater understanding on the following topics:

  •   Recognizing the importance of creating equity and sharing power
  •   Dealing with the “fragility” of dominant groups–their discomfort in engaging with historically subordinated groups
  •   Addressing the exhaustion historically marginalized groups feel from constantly explaining their different lived experience
  •   Exploring how to build trust and create psychologically safe spaces for dialogue

 This guide is comprehensive for anyone who wants to break down the barriers that separate us and facilitate discussions on potentially polarizing topics.

The Promises of Giants

Author: John Amaechi Obe

On the cover Adam Grant says, “This is one of the most powerful books ever written on leadership.”

Leadership is my favorite topic so it makes sense I would check this book out.

The book includes 14 promises that leaders need to make to themselves and those they lead because as the author states, “Everyone is a giant to someone.”

Thank you Mo for recommending this book to me.

What Great Story Tellers Know

Author: Bernadette Jiwa.

Two years ago I took the “Story Skills Workshop” by Bernadette Jiwa and Seth Godin.

As a podcaster I have been very interested in developing my ability to tell stories. This skill is also foundational for school leaders as well.

Jonathan Haidt said, “The emotional tail wags the rational dog.”

Too often school leaders present with facts, figures, and poorly designed slide decks. This is not how people learn or how they are influenced.

Since the beginning of time it has been story that has influenced, inspired, and moved people to action. MLK Jr. said “I have a dream” and told a story. He did not say, “I have a dream” and followed that with facts and figures.

First, Break All the Rules

Author: Gallup.

Three reasons I chose this book:

  1. One of my mentors recommended this book
  2. It’s created by the same organization that made Strength Finders 2.0 which is amazing and I highly recommend.
  3. The premise is to learn from high level leaders and what they do differently. Sound like being a Ruckus Maker to me!

Ready to Level Up?

There are five ways I will help school leaders level up in 2022.

  1. SUBSCRIBE to the BLBS podcast on Apple or Spotify; SUBSCRIBE to the School Leadership Series on Apple or Spotify.
  2. READ my latest book about unlocking your potential as a school leader. If you are interested in a bulk book order to discuss Mastermind: Unlocking Talent Within Every School Leader with your leadership team, email me ([email protected]) for an incredible discount.
  3. JOIN my FREE 5-day “Best Year Ever” challenge.
  4. APPLY to the The Principal Success Path
  5. APPLY to the mastermind.


Author: Greg McKeown

Reason to Read: We live in a busy world. Learn how to focus on The Vital Few and increase your impact.

Enemies of Excellence

Author: Greg Salciccioli

Reason to Read: According to Greg there are 10 enemies of excellence. They begin with isolation and get worse from there. Leadership matters and you can combat these enemies by being mindful of what they are.

Greg was on Episode 51 of the podcast.

Deep Work

Author: Cal Newport

Reason to Read: Extended time + Deep Focus = Meaningful Work Produced. Cal offers concrete strategy to level up our productivity.

Search Inside Yourself

Author: Chade Meng Tan

Reason to Read: Mindfulness 101. If you were able to be more objective, develop deeper and more meaningful relationship with your staff, and live a remarkably more joyful life, would you? Learn how here.

The Advantage

Author: Pat Lencioni

Reason to Read: This is a go-to strategy guide for how to optimize your organization for success. Pat teaches how to run an organization that is emotionally healthy. That is The Advantage.

Creativity Inc.

Author: Ed Catmull

Reason to Read: Ed ran Pixar for many years. Learn his out-of-the-box approach to leadership. If nothing else, read this text to learn about The Brainstrust and imagine how you could apply to your school.

The Go-Giver Leader

Author: Bob Burg and John David Mann

Reason to Read: A light hearted fictional tale about a merger and acquisition. Aunt Elle is a leadership “Yoda” like character. This book guarantees to challenge your leadership perspective.

I was honored to host John David Mann on Episode 113 of the Podcast.

Miracle Morning

Author: Hal Elrod

Reason to Read: In Hal’s experience, successful people are able to drive results because of the tone they set for the day at the beginning of each day. He teaches his approach through the acronym SAVERS (Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, & Scribing).


Author: The Heath Bros

Reason to Read: This book is all about change. “I told you so” isn’t a very motivating reason for most employees to embrace change. Learn the science behind change and better equip yourself to steward a vision grounded in change.

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Procrastinate on Purpose

Author: Rory Vaden

Reason to Read: You can get more done by procrastinating, kind of. Rory teaches The Focus Funnel a mental model leaders can use to make better choices each day. Hint: Significance plays a part.

The 12 Week Year

Author: Brian Moran

Reason to Read: Easy read and lacks depth. However, if you implement this system you will produce dramatically more work than you ever have.

View from the Top

Author: Aaron Walker

Reason to Read: An inspiring tale of how one man has overcome a number of challenges to become someone with incredible character and integrity.

Aaron has been on the podcast twice. Episode 12 & Episode 96.

Over the Top

Author: Zig Ziglar

Reason to Read: Written by a salesman / incredible motivator. Zig inspires readers to focus on what matters and gives you a roadmap on how to sustain a positive mental attitude.

Living Forward

Author: Michael Hyatt

Reason to Read: Without a plan, individuals drift throughout life. Michael teaches how created his life plan and lives with intentionality.

Hard Conversations Unpacked

Author: Jennifer Abrams

Reason to Read: Just like the title reads, this text is about difficult conversations. Those that can navigate them with a humane and savvy approach stand a chance to make a much more significant contribution to their community, than those that lack this skill.

Jennifer has been on the podcast twice — Episode 36 & Episode 88.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Author: Dale Carnegie

Reason to Read: Written before you, your parents, and maybe even your grandparents were born; this text is a classic on how to build relationships. Leadership is all about relationships.

Daring Greatly

Author: Brene Brown

Reason to Read: Authentic and vulnerable leaders establish more trust with their people and are able to take their organizations far. Learn how to be authentic here.

Tools of Titans

Author: Tim Ferriss

Reason to Read: On his podcast, Tim investigates what the world’s top performers have in common and not so in common. Learn the tips, tricks, rituals, and strategies from the world’s top performers.


Author: Liz Wiseman

Reason to Read: Wiseman shares what top leaders do to multiply their efforts. Hint: it’s by utilizing their team effectively.

Creative Schools

Author: Sir Ken Robinson

Reason to Read: In this book, Robinson shows the way to create a modern school that offers a more personalized approach to learning (that kids love). As an added bonus, Robinson discusses how to tap into today’s technological advances and how to help students solve interesting problems.

Good to Great

Author: Jim Collins

Reason to Read: Collins studied what companies to do to take their organizations to the next level. This book is where the idea of “Getting the right people on the bus” as well as many others comes from. A seminal leadership book.

It’s Your Ship

Author: D. Michael Abrashoff

Reason to Read: Abrashoff’s ship was the worst in the Navy. Then it was the best. This is master class on how to turn around a low performing organization.

In 2019 I made a commitment to make a better effort to include more books from authors other than white males.

This year, two of the five books were created by authors of color. There are two female authors. The last book is written by an organization — which would have no race attached to it — but I counted it against my total anyway since it took a spot away from an author of color.

 I’m excited to dig into these books within the mastermind.

 For past book recommendations, check out these links:

Did you enjoy this post on the best books for school principals? If you did, then please share via social media.

Did I miss a book that should have been included? Please add it in the comments below.

Have you read my book? If not, here is your roadmap to creating a legendary school.

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