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Below is a list of books that take a comprehensive, non-faddish approach to addressing the complex topics of leadership and management. While the publication dates range from the early 2000’s to the 2020's, more so than basing a book's modernity or relevancy on its date of publication, we selected books that we believe are most germane to the types of challenges faced by today's managers and leaders.
After Browsing this list, please be sure to check out our list of influential management books, also located on this Management Works website. The books on that list are generally regarded as having had a significant, historical impact on the practice of contemporary management.
The authors make the case for the singular power of what they term as the Connector manager. Connector managers build strong and effective teams and based on research, interviews, and case-studies, the authors identify the behaviors and mindset associated with this type of manager and discuss how other managers can incorporate them into their practice.
As a leader, are you interested in transforming your organization’s culture so that increased production, better worker satisfaction, and improved customer service becomes a routine expectation, rather than a lofty goal pushed from the top-down? If so, the authors of this book provide tested strategies that we at Management Works think will satisfy your interest.
From the individual who is responsible for the world’s top-rated podcast, Manager Tools, this book is a comprehensive, practical approach to becoming a more effective manager. Whether you are new to management or you have been doing it for years, we recommend this book for its clear-cut messaging and its time-tested advice.
No one states the case for management as an experientially learned practice, as opposed to a didactically-taught profession, quite as emphatically and plainly as does Henry Mintzberg. In Simply Managing, Mintzberg once again makes a strong case for changing our approaches to educating and developing managers, while also presenting a model of managing that we think, in all of its relative complexity, goes further than most of the other available models in depicting exactly what it is--and where, when, and for whom--managers do.
The authors discuss how the Exchange Model, in which collaboration, an awareness of another person’s needs, and the skills required to turn both into desired results come together to offer a better approach to influencing those individuals for whom you have no direct control. The Exchange Model is based on a proven methodology and we highly recommend giving this book a read!
In Think Again, Wharton professor and organizational development expert, Adam Grant, convincingly posits that one of the most important forms of intelligence in today’s modern world full of often contradicting and confusing information is the ability to be open to new ideas and thoughts and to unlearn and re-learn what you think you already know. With a message that champions an openness to, and an embracing of, information that contradicts what we believe and what we think we know, we could not offer a much higher recommendation than the one we make for this book.
To make the transition from a manager of non-supervisory employees to a leader or manager of other managers, one must adjust both their mindset and approach. A leader of managers must be able to set a clear and achievable vision, collaborate, and avoid relying on authority to get buy-in. This book addresses all these items and much more.
The authors present information obtained through their study of several large organizations that explains how operations driven by artificial intelligence greatly expand the traditional constraints associated with scope, scale, and performance and how organizations that reconfigure their operations to be more AI-centric-and-driven can realize the same results.
Military leaders have long had standardized manuals for leadership, providing them with uniform information and guidelines about the appropriate actions to take in a variety of different situations and scenarios. In Leadership Strategy and Tactics, the author aims to offer something similar for civilian leaders. Covering such wide ranging management and leadership topics as rewards, communication, discipline, and operational tactics—to name only a few—we at Management Works believe this book has earned a place on your bookshelf.
In Do Nothing, Celste Headlee persuasively argues that the ‘cure for what ails us’ in modern society is not more unconstrained commitment, but rather a moving away from an over-investment of our time to external entities and institutions and a moving toward a re-investment to our internal selves. This book tells us to relax and take more time for ourselves and actually means it!
As the title infers, the authors discuss the need to replace today’s heavily bureaucratic organizations, which rely on top-to-bottom organizational decision-making processes, with organizations that rely on all members at all levels to create a more nimble and effective response to the myriad of new challenges facing us today.
The author of this book convincingly argues that the days of the ‘hero,’ top-down, quick, decisive leader are over. What is needed instead is a style of leadership that centers on collaboration, empowerment, and networking. We at Management Works strongly suggest adding this book to your leadership and management library.
The authors use narratives and their work with large corporations to argue that the real power of leadership is unleashed only through the empowerment and development of others.
We are all susceptible to unconscious bias, which arises from the preconceived notions we have about people, things, ideas, and situations. In this book, the author teaches us how to confront unconscious bias to prevent it from negatively impacting our decision-making process, our relationships, and our reputation. If you are not familiar with unconscious bias or how to keep it from sabotaging both your best laid plans and your good intentions, we strongly recommend this book.
The central thesis of this persuasive read is to ‘stop passively leading and begin actively creating.’ This book is ideal for anyone who wants to transform their team, area, or organization into a proactive, problem-solving enterprise.
Based on extensive research, Chaka Booker has developed a system consisting of 12 proven hiring strategies to help every manager transform their hiring process from a 50-50 prospect to one in which making the right hire becomes the overwhelming norm.
Patrick Lencioni uses a fictionalized account of a CEO facing a crisis to address what the author believes to be the primary motivation for every organizational leader.
Based on his personal experiences with overcoming failure, Doug Conant discusses six steps for optimizing one’s abilities as a leader.
Stephen Bungay used the military strategy framework developed by 19th century Prussian Office, Carl Von Clausewitz, to develop an approach to management that better equips managers to transform plans into action and action into desired outcomes. Bungay’s approach is currently taught at the HULT Ashridge International Business School.
The authors use the fictional story of an IT manager tasked with turning around a failing project to present a new way of successfully integrating information technology with existing business processes.
Managing in the IT field is its own particular type of beast and, if we are being absolutely honest, IT managers are a unique bunch. In The Manager’s Path, the authors offer a comprehensive set of tools and advice to assist IT engineers with their journey to management and on how to succeed once they get there.
The authors argue that the curriculum and focus of current MBA programs no longer aligns with the needs of both the business community and the larger society. They then present practical and achievable alternatives that they think will help business education leaders overcome this challenge.
This best-selling book by Wharton professor Adam Grant was named one of the best business books by the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times. In it, Grant makes the case for why “Givers” so often build strong, productive teams and are behind many of an organization’s successes.
In this engaging, entertaining, and informative book that reads like a memoir, Kristen Hadeed tells the story of her evolution from a flawed leader making one mistake after another to a successful and respected CEO who now mentors and teaches others on the principles of effective leadership.
In Deep Work, Cal Newport tells us that our current modus operandi of multi-tasking and spreading our attention across several sources of information simultaneously is seriously impeding the immense and creative productivity that comes from working deep (i.e. with a narrow and immersive focus). We at Management Works believe this book to be a must-read for our current times!
Ries defines entrepreneurship as the process of creating within volatile and uncertain conditions, which is increasingly becoming the norm rather than the exception and applies to companies of all sizes and with varying degrees of longevity; and to succeed in this environment, these companies must move away from elaborate and time-consuming “big business” practices and methods and toward the lean and nimble practices of a start-up.
In this text, Peter Thiel posits that the next innovations will likely not occur where the previous ones have, but rather can occur in any industry of any sort. However, this happens only if managers are thinking in a way that promotes creativity. Without creativity and innovation, we produce more of the same; with it, we are capable of producing the next sea change.
Considered by many to be one of, if not THE, premier text on developing and enacting great, yet practical, leadership. We at Management Works recommend it not only for you, but also your entire team.
Using her personal transition to management as a starting point, Julie Zhuo presents an effective and comprehensive guide for new managers. Starting with an explanation of what she believes management to be, Zhuo proceeds to cover such topics as: the value of feedback; employee selection; leading teams; driving performance; and tending to organizational culture. What sets Zhuo's addition to this genre apart from the others is her engaging style and her reference to her own experiences.
The worst leaders are outright impediments to their team’s initiative and creative thinking. Mediocre leaders do not create the environment to encourage such activities. Highly effective leaders, however, not only enable creativity, innovation, and problem-solving among their team members, they operate in a way that exponentially multiplies such activities. Which of the aforementioned leaders do you want to be?
We are going to keep this summary short on details and simply exclaim that you should absolutely, unequivocally make time to read what USA Today has praised as one of the “12 best business books of all time” and Fortune views as “the best how-to manual anywhere for managers on delegating, training, and driving flawless execution.”
According to several project management nerds we consulted, this is arguably the single best book for those who are tasked with managing a project but have little-to-no experience doing so.
As we will discuss in The Management Narrative podcast, we place a high value on the totality of the management and leadership book genre, to include those texts from the past that helped shape management into what it is today. The authors of The 100 Best Business Books of All Time share this mindset and excellently present the biggest lessons from some of the most consequential books.
In The Halo Effect, the authors debunk many of the erroneous notions prevalent in both the business arena and the business education and publishing field. Just because something has been said and even taught and written about, it does not make it an absolute truism . . . and such pervasiveness of what is nothing more than myths and half-truths can have serious negative impacts on your organization.
An engaging, informative read about the award-winning, highly successful design and development firm, IDEO. Learn how IDEO gets the best out of their people by creating an organizational culture and structure that removes obstacles and encourages maximum involvement and input at all levels. And get it all directly from their former general manager, Tom Kelley.
The title says it all and we recommend this book simply because those of us that have read it found it as equally engaging as some of the better novels we have devoured. And as almost a bonus, we gained some useful insights into the individuals involved in developing the business, management, and capitalism as we know it today.
One sentence is all that is needed to promote this book: How to consistently get top tier results out of normal folk.
One of the best systemized blueprints to improving organizational-wide results that we have come across. Because it is designed to be applicable to virtually every area of an organization, we recommend it for managers of all sorts and at all levels.
Another NY Times bestseller and this one made it there in part because it has transformed how many managers approach having those difficult, unpleasant, potentially combative conversations they used to dread. Equally applicable in both your professional and personal life.
In Competition Demystified, a top U.S. professor has created one of the best books in simplifying (in a good way) the unnecessary complexities that have been built up around business strategy over the years. This is an excellent book for those of you who have wanted to better understand the intricacies of developing and implementing strategy but have found the endeavor too daunting. With this book, that excuse no longer holds true.
The best of Peter F. Drucker distilled into one text. What else could you ask for??
For one of the more practical, yet simultaneously comprehensive and detailed discussions of what management actually is and what it actually does, we at Management Works believe this book to be ‘best in class’ and definitely think it should be on your bookshelf (no, scratch that, it should never be resting on a bookshelf; it should perpetually be in the hands of one manager or another, sharing with them all it has to offer—this is a book begging for dog-ears, highlights, and a tattered cover).
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