If you have ambition to reach to the top of the corporate ladder, you need to focus on two things only; (a) your strategy skills; and (b) your leadership expertise.

To develop these talents, you do not need another MBA. Your degrees and certifications helped you reach where you are today. Moving up from mid to the top requires your practical skills not degrees.

Jim Rohn said, “Formal education will make you a living; self-education can make you a fortune.” What you need to focus is to keep learning and developing through self-education.

Leaders are readers. Read books, blogs, and business magazines; watch educational videos; attend webinars and short online courses. This is the most practical, effective and economical way to develop your strategy and leadership skills.

Below I have compiled a selection of top 10 Strategy books. These books are quite practical in approach with current case studies and carry a treasure of business wisdom.

If you can pay enough time and attention, these books have the power to turn you into a strategy guru.

1. Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works by A.G. Lafley

The author of this book has a strong track record as the CEO of Proctor and Gamble and has led many products and brands to the top of the market. In this book, he directs business leaders on how to determine success and where to play and how to win.

2. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins

In this bestselling book author Jim Collins provides the seven characteristics that are required for a business to become successful. The book is based on an extensive research of 1,400 companies included in the Fortune 500 index since 1965.

3. Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

The Blue Ocean Strategy explains how a business can get ahead of its competition by creating its own Blue Ocean. This book describes with great clarity, the theories and principles behind the Blue Ocean Strategy.

4. HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Strategy – Articles Compiled by HBR's Editors

These articles have been carefully selected by HBR to provide a comprehensive orientation to the vast strategy subject. It is practically useful to anyone who wants to develop a quick understanding of various strategy frameworks without going through the details of voluminous books.

5. Good Strategy, Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt

A practical guideline to help you understand the basics of good strategy and how to avoid most common deadly mistakes.

6. Competitive Strategy by Michael E. Porter

Michael Porter is a living legend and the father of modern business strategy. This book is a classic and must read for anyone to establish a solid foundation for modern management science.

7. The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist’s Guide to Success in Business and Life by Avinash K. Dixit and Barry J.J. Nalebuff

This one of the top books on strategy illustrates how you can change your life by using game theory. It is not only applicable in your life; it is equally effective for your career progression.

8. Strategy Maps: Converting Intangible Assets into Tangible Outcomes by Robert S. Kaplan & David P. Norton

Kaplan and Norton after introducing the revolutionary concept of Balanced Scorecard in earlier books, present another breakthrough approach called “Strategy Maps” that can help businesses to find a link between intangible assets and their outcome.

9. Strategy That Works: How Winning Companies Close the Strategy-to-Execution Gap by Paul Leinwand & Cesare R. Mainardi

This book is different in its approach and scope. This book can be called a bridge between strategy and execution. That means you will learn how to do gap analysis and act on the insights you get.

10. Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategy by Joan Magretta

An excellent compilation of Michael Porter's insights on the subject of strategy. The author has related and clarified various concepts and strategy framework with relation with the modern business models.


Saleem Sufi is a CFO Leadership Coach and Strategy Expert with more than 20 years CFO level experience working for top world class Fortune 500 and Private Equity owned companies in Asia Pacific, Middle East, Europe and United States. He is the Founder and President of MECA CFO Academy where he leads the Senior Finance Community with an entire focus on leadership development and career growth.