Despite what the diversity numbers may suggest, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to making it to the top. But for many leaders, particularly intersectional women from marginalized backgrounds, it soon becomes clear that the advice of keeping your head down and working twice as hard as your white male peers is only half the battle to success.
Yes, hard work is needed. But so is the know-how and fortitude to navigate the biases, microaggressions, and discrimination that often come with being the only — an experience that one too many Black women are aware of. According to Lean In and McKinsey & Company’s latest “Women in the Workplace” report, Black women leaders are more ambitious than their peers but they face greater barriers to advancement. Compared to other women at their level, Black women leaders are more likely to have colleagues question their competence at work, with one in three Black women saying they’ve been passed over for opportunities because of personal characteristics including race and gender.
In honor of Black History Month, Chief editors have compiled a list of seven leadership books written by Black authors that will help all executives, not just Black women, navigate the politics of work in order to become better leaders. From Carla Harris’ latest tome, Lead to Win, to Shellye Archambeau’s Unapologetically Ambitious, these books dig deep into how some of the brightest minds in business have succeeded against all odds.
Lead to Win: How to Be a Powerful, Impactful, Influential Leader in Any Environment by Carla Harris
- In her latest book, the Morgan Stanley executive and Chief speaker highlights eight things every executive must be intentional about in order to become a powerful and impactful leader no matter where they work.
The Waymakers: Clearing the Path to Workplace Equity With Competence and Confidence by Tara Jaye Frank
- As a highly-recommended book by Chief Members, The Waymakers outlines the importance of achieving equity in professional spaces. Frank, an equity strategist and consultant, uses data and case studies to help guide leaders on how they can create sustainable DEI initiatives at their organizations.
The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table by Minda Harts
- In Harts’ bestselling book, The Memo, the former guest on Chief’s podcast, The New Rules of Business, provides a no-BS look at the odds stacked against women of color in professional settings. This much-needed career advice guide provides actionable takeaways for not just women leaders, but all leaders, that challenges the one-size-fits-all approach to success.
Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less by Tiffany Dufu
- In Drop the Ball, Dufu offers actionable advice for how women can re-evaluate expectations, shrink their to-do list, and meaningfully engage in the assistance of others in order to succeed both at work and at home.
Unapologetically Ambitious: Take Risks, Break Barriers, and Create Success on Your Own Terms by Shellye Archambeau
- In Unapologetically Ambitious, Archambeau shares practical strategies for how leaders can achieve their personal and professional goals regardless of their background. Throughout the book, the former IBM executive, who is also known as one of Silicon Valley’s first Black female CEOs, lays out tips for overcoming imposter syndrome, building your network, and establishing a respectable reputation that leads to greater success.
Acting Up: Winning in Business and Life Using Down-Home Wisdom by Janice Bryant Howroyd
- In Acting Up, Howroyd details her journey to becoming the first Black woman to build and own a billion-dollar company, The ActOne Group. She details the leadership principles that she lives by and why she encourages all leaders to embrace their uniqueness in order to conquer their goals in business.
Purpose Driven Leadership: Building and Fostering Effective Teams by Bridgette Hyacinth
- In Purpose Driven Leadership, Hyacinth provides research-backed strategies and steps for how individuals can put together high-performing teams in order to be more effective leaders in any environment.
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