15 Must-Listen Podcasts for Managers and Leaders in 2024

Management is hard. Whether you‘re a new manager taking on your first direct reports or a seasoned executive leading a large organization, the challenges are constant: motivating teams, making tough decisions, adapting to change, delivering results.

The good news is, you don‘t have to figure it all out on your own. Podcasts have emerged as an incredibly rich resource for management advice and wisdom. Consider these stats:

  • Over 100 million Americans listen to podcasts every month (Insider Intelligence)
  • 74% of podcast listeners tune in to learn new things (Edison Research)
  • Podcast listeners are a desirable audience for advertisers, with above average education and income levels (Convince & Convert)
  • Management and business is consistently one of the most popular podcast categories (Podnews)

In other words, ambitious managers like you are increasingly turning to podcasts to level up their skills on the go. As an executive coach who has worked with hundreds of managers, I can attest that the shows on this list are truly the cream of the crop. They offer an incredible depth of insight that can help you navigate your toughest challenges and take your leadership to the next level.

I‘ve organized the list into categories that align with the key skills and topics that come up most often with my coaching clients, from communication to decision making to self-care. Within each category, I‘ve highlighted a few standout shows and episodes to get you started, but I highly recommend browsing the back catalogs of any that resonate with you.

Foundational Shows for New Managers

Moving into a management role for the first time is a huge transition. Suddenly you‘re responsible not just for your own work, but for the success of a whole team. Many new managers struggle with the same issues, like giving effective feedback, running productive meetings, and balancing accountability with autonomy.

If you‘re looking to build a solid foundation of management best practices, start with these shows:

Podcast Host(s) Key Topics Episode Length Frequency Start Year
Manager Tools Mark Horstman & Mike Auzenne One-on-ones, feedback, coaching, delegation 25-45 min Weekly 2005
Coaching for Leaders Dave Stachowiak Communication, productivity, leading change 30-60 min Weekly 2011
The New Manager Podcast Ann Vertel Time management, career development, working with different personalities 20-40 min Every 2 weeks 2022

I often recommend new managers start with the "Manager Tools Basics" series, which covers their trademark Feedback Model, One-on-One structure, Coaching Model, and Delegation Model. Hosts Mark and Mike, both former corporate executives, have an endearingly old-school vibe, but their advice is battle-tested and highly actionable.

As one reviewer put it: "I‘ve been a manager for over 10 years, and I still learned something new from every episode. This show is a must-listen for anyone who manages people."

Communication Mastery

Ask any experienced leader the most important skill for managers to master and they‘ll likely say communication. As management guru Peter Drucker famously said, "60% of all management problems are the result of faulty communications."

Whether you need to nail a high-stakes presentation, provide hard feedback, or resolve a conflict within your team, these podcasts offer expert guidance:

Podcast Host(s) Key Topics Episode Length Frequency Start Year
The Look & Sound of Leadership Tom Henschel Executive presence, difficult conversations, communicating up 10-20 min Monthly 2008
Communication Guys Podcast Tim Downs & Dr. Mike Abendroth Persuasion, listening, body language 20-30 min Weekly 2010
Talk at Work Nancy Van Engelen & Friderike Butler Meeting facilitation, managing remote teams, stakeholder communication 30-40 min Every 2 weeks 2021

One of my favorite shows in this category is The Look & Sound of Leadership. Host Tom Henschel is an executive coach who often plays clips from his actual coaching sessions, so you get to hear communication principles applied to real-world situations.

I love this insight he shared in a recent episode: "The most effective communication happens when you‘re focused not on what you want to say, but on what you want the other person to hear."

Strategic Decision Making

Management is all about making decisions – what products to launch, which markets to enter, how to allocate resources. But in a world that‘s growing more uncertain and fast-changing by the day, there‘s more pressure than ever to make the right calls.

To up your decision making game, queue up these shows:

Podcast Host(s) Key Topics Episode Length Frequency Start Year
HBR IdeaCast Alison Beard Strategy, leadership, decision making, innovation 20-30 min Weekly 2006
The Strategy Skills Podcast Erica Olsen Strategic planning, critical thinking, problem solving 15-40 min Every 2 weeks 2018
Your Undivided Attention Tristan Harris & Aza Raskin Ethics, technology, societal impact 30-60 min Every 2 weeks 2019

HBR IdeaCast is a perennial favorite, featuring interviews with leading business thinkers on topics that are top of mind for managers. A great starter episode is their interview with poker champion and author Annie Duke on "How to Decide."

Duke offers this wisdom: "What makes a decision great is not that it has a great outcome. A great decision is the result of a good process, and that process must include an attempt to accurately represent our own state of knowledge."

Leading Through Disruption

If there‘s one universal truth of management in the 2020s, it‘s that change is constant. From the pandemic to new technologies to social movements, disruption has become the norm. Managers who can inspire their teams to navigate uncertainty and maintain performance are in high demand.

For a dose of resiliency and innovation, try these shows:

Podcast Host(s) Key Topics Episode Length Frequency Start Year
Masters of Scale Reid Hoffman Rapidly scaling a business, pivoting, taking risks 30-50 min Weekly 2017
Lead to Win Michael Hyatt Vision casting, change leadership, goal setting 25-45 min Weekly 2009
Disruptive CEO Nation Allison Summers Industry transformation, leadership mindset, growth strategies 20-40 min Weekly 2015

As a startup investor, Masters of Scale host Reid Hoffman has had a front row seat to some of the most successful pivots and innovations of the past few decades (he was an early investor in Airbnb and Facebook).

In one of my favorite episodes, Hoffman interviews General Stanley McChrystal about leading through crisis. McChrystal shares: "A leader isn‘t good because they‘re right; they‘re good because they‘re willing to learn and to trust."

Management‘s Mental and Physical Toll

Let‘s be real – management is a demanding, stressful job. Many leaders face intense performance pressure, long hours and constant upward or lateral managing. Burnout and mental health challenges are endemic in the profession.

If you could use some support in staying physically and mentally fit to lead for the long haul, give these shows a listen:

Podcast Host(s) Key Topics Episode Length Frequency Start Year
What Great Bosses Know Jill Geisler Stress management, modeling work-life balance, burnout prevention 5-15 min 2-3 per week 2014
Redesigning Wellness Jennifer Moss Healthy workplaces, emotional intelligence, mindfulness 30-60 min Weekly 2020
Beyond the To-Do List Erik Fisher Productivity, self-care, focus 30-60 min Every 2 weeks 2010

I appreciate that What Great Bosses Know host Jill Geisler acknowledges that so much of management advice ignores the very real human challenges of the job. As she put in a recent mini-episode on overwhelm: "To be a good boss, you first have to remember to be good to yourself."

If you listen to just one episode, make it her powerful interview with grief counselor Julia Samuel on "Leading Through Loss." In an era of so much collective grief, it‘s essential listening for any manager.

Voices to Broaden Your Perspective

As a manager, it‘s easy to get trapped in your own bubble – focused on your team, your company, your industry. But some of the most valuable insights often come from zooming out and learning from diverse voices and experiences.

These shows will push your thinking and expose you to new ideas:

Podcast Host(s) Key Topics Episode Length Frequency Start Year
WorkLife with Adam Grant Adam Grant Organizational psychology, motivation, culture 30-40 min Weekly 2017
No Straight Path Alisha Ramos Leadership journeys of people of color, women and LGBTQ leaders 30-60 min Every 2 weeks 2021
Without Fail Alex Blumberg Lessons from business and leadership failures 30-60 min Every 2 weeks 2018

One of the most unique shows out there is Without Fail, hosted by Gimlet Media co-founder Alex Blumberg. In each episode, Blumberg interviews a leader about a time they failed and what they learned from it. It‘s a refreshing break from the usual success stories.

As guest Abby Wambach, two-time Olympic gold medalist and equality activist, shared: "We‘re so busy curating our lives on social media to make it look like we have no bumps in the road. But failure is how we learn and improve. We have to talk about it more."

Implementing What Your Learn

Of course, filling your podcast feed with management advice is just the first step – the real magic happens when you put the ideas into practice.

Here are a few tips to get the most out of your listening:

  1. Reflect after each episode. Ask yourself: What‘s one key insight I took away? How could this apply to a current challenge I‘m facing?
  2. Take action. Pick one piece of advice from an episode and commit to implementing it within the next week. Start small to build momentum.
  3. Share with your team. Discussing podcast takeaways is a great way to spark more substantive, skill-building conversations. Send links to episodes in Slack or bring them up in your next one-on-one.
  4. Bookmark favorite episodes. Start a running list of episodes that really resonate with you, so you can easily revisit them down the road. I like to make a few notes on specific points that stood out.
  5. Mix it up. In addition to show that are squarely focused on management, branch out to podcasts on psychology, storytelling, history, or other areas that stretch your thinking. Inspiration often comes from unexpected places.

The beauty of podcasts is that they make it easy to never stop learning, even with the most overpacked schedule. Treat your commute, workout, or household chores as sacred time for your own growth and development.

As legendary GE CEO Jack Welch once said: "Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others."

These 15 podcasts will set you on the path to doing both. By learning from some of the brightest minds in business, honing your core management skills, and broadening your perspectives, you‘ll be prepared to lead your team and organization to new heights in the coming year.

So queue up an episode, grab a notebook, and let‘s get growing together! Your future self – and your team – will thank you.