“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” -Harry Truman
As a manager, you may feel like you don’t have time to read outside of a busy work schedule. However, with so much valuable information available, reading a little bit every day can go a long way in improving your leadership skills. Here are ten must-read books for managers no matter your industry or company.
- Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t – Jim Collins
Collins analyzes the performance of several successful companies to determine what makes even mediocre companies great. His focus on Level 5 leadership and getting the right people can help you rethink your hiring strategies. In later chapters, he offers a powerful framework for addressing problems and new trends.
- Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us – Daniel Pink
Any manager knows that you are only as good as your team. As many books for managers point out, when teams are made up of diverse individuals, it can be difficult to figure out how to motivate everyone. Pink’s book explains why incentives alone don’t work and how shifting your focus to building autonomy, mastery and purpose among your employees can help increase employee success.
- Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey
As Mind Tools points out, planning and managing your time is one of the most important skills a manager can have. Covey’s classic book presents many exercises and tips for learning how to manage multiple tasks. His focus on training people to be proactive and to look at all activities using an Urgent/Not Urgent and Important/Not Important quadrant can help improve time management.
- How to Win Friends & Influence People – Dale Carnegie
Few books for managers will offer the range of life and professional advice that Carnegie’s book does. His helpful and easy to understand principles – focused on honesty, listening and encouragement – can help you improve your relationship with your employees.
- Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High – Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler
As a manager, communication is one of your most important skills. Research shows that employees who have regular one-on-ones with their managers are more likely to be engaged in their work. Not every conversation is going to be easy, however. This book includes helpful tips on creating a safe space to talk about difficult topics and communicating when emotions are heightened.
- Daring Greatly – Brene Brown
Brown’s book is not often billed as a leadership book, but her three lessons on vulnerability and courage can help provide a different perspective for inspiring others than you find in most books for managers. While Brown discusses how parents can be a role model for kids, you can apply these lessons on how to be a role model for your employees. This book is also a great way to build emotional intelligence.
- Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In – Roger Fisher, William Ury
As a manager, you will have to do a lot of negotiating. Even if you don’t have to negotiate contracts in your position, as a leader you will be negotiating with your employees and others in your organization. This book helps you separate the issues from the person, focus on others’ interests and generate options. It provides a handy framework that you can apply to nearly any negotiation.
- Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us – Seth Godin
Godin is well-known for his inspiring leadership books, and this one on tribes or what can make a successful team is no exception. You’ll be able to take team-building to a new level with his advice on what makes a successful tribe. Learn how to be more genuine and authentic and how to turn belief into strategy with this insightful book.
- Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln – Doris Kearns Goodwin
While this may not seem like a typical leadership book, there is much you can learn from Abraham Lincoln’s ability to bridge different ideologies and personalities. Lincoln is a great example of a leader with a growth mindset, someone who embraced challenges and persisted in the face of obstacles in order to achieve the unthinkable.
- The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles – Steven Pressfield
Not to be confused with the similarly-titled, famous strategy book (“The Art of War” by Sun Tzu), this book focuses on how to foster creativity in anyone. Even if you don’t work in a creative field, unlocking your own and your employees’ inner artists can help overcome resistance to new ideas and inspire unique and creative solutions to problems.