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10 Leadership & Self-Improvement Books for Finance Leaders (Part III)


Several years ago, we curated a series of popular leadership and self-improvement books that come highly recommended for finance leaders like yourselves.

Since then, it’s been an eventful few years. And now that the world has moved past the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we thought it might be a good time to introduce a few more thought-provoking books that’ll equip you with the tools to adapt to a greatly changed world.

Take it from one of the most successful businessmen and investors in the world today;


Read 500 pages every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest.

- Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway


We've put together another list of 10 popular leadership and self-improvement books that will give finance leaders some fresh new insights, and help prepare you for a world and business environment that’s so different from what came before.

To add these books to your to-do reading list, simply click on the link in each heading to learn more.


1. For The Finance Leader At A Startup - Startup CFO: The Finance Handbook For Your Growing Business

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Good financial management is critical if your startup is to survive the first few months of operations, and set itself on the path to success.

Unfortunately, it’s also often overlooked by many of the entrepreneurs behind these startups, leading to an increased likelihood that they will fail due to financial constraints or unforeseen pitfalls.

In Startup CFO: The Finance Handbook For Your Growing Business, Kyle Brennan provides a guide that covers the basics of business finance, and specifically how these basic functions apply to startups and growing small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

It also covers the different focuses that CFOs like yourselves hold, and how each of these roles help support the scaling and growth of your business.


2. For The Finance Leader Who Wants To Know Everything About Their Role - The New CFO Financial Leadership Manual 

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For every CFO who wish to play a strategic role in their businesses, and want to be sure they have all the knowledge and tools they need to excel in this role at their fingertips, The New CFO Financial Leadership Manual, Third Edition will prove to be an indispensable guide.


Authored by Steven M. Bragg, one of the most respected experts in the field, The New CFO Financial Leadership Manual covers everything you need to know; from mastering financial analysis and forecasting to leading strategic initiatives and driving business growth.

Some of its contents include the following;

  • Updated information on the relationship of the CFO with the Treasurer, registration statements and Fedwire payments, acquisitions integration, legal types of acquisitions, and government regulations
  • Control flowcharts for the main accounting cycles
  • New chapters on Investor Relations and Risk Management for Foreign Exchange and Interest Rates
  • An itemized list of the key tasks every new CFO should complete when first entering the position, a checklist of 100 performance measures, and a detailed discussion of employee compensation plans

It also comes with a step-by-step guide for building a strong financial team, as well as key insights that can help you communicate effectively with your stakeholders, and leverage the latest technology to drive greater efficiency and growth for your business.


3. For The Finance Leader Who Needs A Toolkit For Their Role - The Financial Controller and CFO's Toolkit: Lean Practices to Transform Your Finance Team

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Containing over 100 lean practice solutions, The Financial Controller and CFO’s Toolkit provides all the tools that a senior finance leader of an SME like yourself could need, to enact change in your finance team to make them future-ready.

Written by world-leading expert David Parmenter, the Toolkit is packed with templates and checklists to help you maintain best practices in reporting, forecasting, KPIs, planning, strategy, and technology. It also comes with a companion website that grants you access to additional resources.

The Toolkit is available in a new 2nd edition, which was updated to reflect the latest practices and technology available for streamlining your workflow, and getting more done in less time without sacrificing quality or accuracy.


4. For Finance Leaders Seeking To Achieve Their Full Potential - Strategic: The Skill to Set Direction, Create Advantage, and Achieve Executive Excellence

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Applicable to business leaders of all types, and not just finance leaders like yourself, Strategic: The Skill to Set Direction, Create Advantage, and Achieve Executive Excellence provides a roadmap to help you think, plan, and act strategically to navigate any and all business challenges that come your way.

In the book, Rich Horwath – the CEO of Strategic Thinking Institute – details the Strategic Fitness System, a proven framework which contains dozens of tools, techniques, and checklists to help you master every area of your business, from designing market-winning strategies to shaping the culture of your business.

Some of the content the book features include:

  • A common language for strategy and business planning
  • Practical tools for developing the four dimensions of executive fitness key to advancing the company’s growth: strategy, leadership, organization, and communication
  • Techniques for designing enduring competitive advantage and frameworks for creating innovative new value for customers
  • Methods for evolving the business model to transform the trajectory of the business
  • The Strategic Quotient (SQ)―a validated assessment of an executive’s strategic thinking, planning, and execution

With practical tools and dozens of real-world examples, Strategic will equip you to reach your full potential, and determine growth opportunities for your business.


5. For The Finance Leader Aiming To Succeed - The Successful CFO 

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Source: Amazon

In an increasingly complex and competitive business environment, the CFO has become an even more important role in any business than before.

Named “CFO of the Year” by the Houston Business Journal in 2014, Tony Tripodo shares insights and experiences, and reveals practical advice on what works and what doesn't work for a CFO to achieve success in the fast-paced business environment of today.

Containing a collection of definitions, case studies, and advice from an industry veteran with more than 40 years under his belt, The Successful CFO covers a wide range of topics that are crucial to your role as a CFO, including leadership, strategy, financial analysis, and risk management.


6. For The Finance Leader Who Wants To Win - Winning 

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During his 40-year tenure at General Electric, of which he spent 20 years as the President and CEO of the organisation, Jack Welch led the company to year-after-year success in multiple markets across the world, against some of the most brutal competition available.

Now, together with his spouse Suzy Welch – a respected business leader and management expert in her own right – Winning provides a comprehensive look at the key principles and practices that have guided their successful careers, and helped them drive growth and profitability for some of the biggest companies in the world.

In the book, Welch delivers a “no-B.S.” collection of actionable insights, thought leadership, and anecdotes which you can employ to build and lead high-performing teams, create and execute winning strategies, and drive innovation and growth for your own business.


7. For The Finance Leader Who Wants To Manage Risk Effectively - Risk: A User’s Guide

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Source: Amazon

What if risk was not a matter of profit-or-loss, but of life-and-death? You might then learn how best to mitigate risk like General Stan McChrystal, who shares the lessons and experiences he learned from his days as a military general in Afghanistan in Risk: A User’s Guide.

In the book, McChrystal reveals that the main reason businesses and their leaders fail to mitigate risk is that they focus on the probability of something happening, rather than the interface by which it can be managed.

He offers a battle-tested system for detecting and responding to risk, defining ten dimensions of control that can be independently managed, and used to improve preparedness and responsiveness when things don’t go exactly as planned.


8. For The Finance Leader Who Wants To Be Prepared For Anything - The Black Swan, Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

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After the trials and tribulations of the past several years, this book about highly improbable events that are unpredictable, carries a massive impact, and are given an explanation that makes it appear less random and more predictable than it was, will resonate with us all more than ever.

According to Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the author of The Black Swan, humans are hardwired to learn specifics when they should be focused on generalities, and concentrate on what we know while failing to consider what we don’t; therefore leaving us vulnerable to being surprised by large-scale events, time and time again.

This second edition comes with a new section “On Robustness and Fragility”, where Taleb offers tools with which we can navigate a world affected by black swan events. Because of this, any finance leader navigating today’s uncertain business environment should read, or reread, this book.


9. For The Finance Leader Who Wants To Understanding Their Competitors - Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors 

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Though it has been four decades since it was first published, Michael Porter’s Competitive Strategy remains a favourite amongst CFOs like yourself for very good reason. After all, Porter’s framework has helped many of them predict the behaviour of their competitors, transformed the way companies look at their rivals, and gave rise to the new discipline of competitor assessment.

In his book, Porter explains how five basic competitive forces determine the ultimate profit potential of any business, no matter which industry it’s in. He also introduced his three generic strategies – lowest cost, differentiation, and focus – which remain one of the most powerful competitive tools employed by businesses to date.

Competitive Strategy is a clear and practical guide to help you, in your capacity as CFO, to understand the competitive forces that are at play, and how you can develop the right strategies to take advantage of them.


10. For The Finance Leader Who Understands The Importance Of Forecasting - Future Ready: How to Master Business Forecasting

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First published in the wake of the 2009 Financial Crisis, the lessons that Steve Morlidge imparted to us with Future Ready about the importance of business forecasting to anticipate and address potential disruption has only become pertinent than ever.

In Future Ready, you can find clearly laid-out strategies and tactics that you, as a CFO, can use to master the process of business forecasting, and ensure that your business is effectively future-proofed against foreseeable crises. It teaches systems and strategies you can use to create forecasts, ensure their accuracy, know when to return to them, and much more.

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