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The 17 Best Management Books Every Leader Should Read

Naval Ravikant, the CEO and founder of AngelList and a famed investor, once said, “Books make for great friends because the best thinkers of the last few thousand years tell you their nuggets of wisdom.”

As a manager, reading can help you in many ways. The world of management continues to change as more technologies are introduced and work cultures continue to change. 

Managers need to adapt on the fly in order to ensure that they remain relevant. Many of the older management theories, for instance, are no longer applicable as the world makes the transition to remote work.

But, in this post, we’ll be covering timeless management books every leader should read at some point in their journey of running a business…

1. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

influence by robert b cialdini book cover

Cialdini’s seminal work is an excellent read for managers, especially those who prefer a more laissez-faire form of management and want to empower teams under them. 

Persuasion, for instance, is an essential skill for managers. Instead of having to order your employees all the time, what if you could persuade them to do well? 

In this book, Cialdini talks about the core concepts behind the art of persuasion and talks about how managers can improve business communication. Instead of offering personal opinions, Cialdini refers to psychological studies about how you can persuade people and features many fascinating interviews and personal anecdotes.

2. The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

the one minute manager by kenneth blanchard and spencer johnson book cover

Good managers are often good leaders. They employ various management techniques and styles to ensure that they keep their employees motivated and complete the project on time. 

Some managers take a more autocratic approach, while others prefer a more democratic management style. In The One Minute Manager, Blanchard and Johnson tell a tale of a young individual looking for a good leader.

By creating a story of sorts, the authors talk about the different types of management styles and eventually provide their own: the eponymous one-minute method. 

This is a unique method for setting clear expectations and goals, something with which many managers struggle. This insightful read is ideal for managers who want to improve their leadership skills and how they set milestones and define objectives.

3. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell

the 21 irrefutable laws of leadership by john c maxwell book cover

John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is one of the most widely quoted books on leadership. A revised edition was also published, introducing two new laws. Think of this book as the ultimate guide to becoming a good manager. 

Not only does Maxwell give excellent leadership advice, but the book also includes lots of personal stories. More importantly, the book also gives you different tools that you can use to improve your understanding of your own weaknesses and strengths. 

On top of that, the book offers a series of practical exercises that you can do to improve your leadership style and become a better manager in the workplace.

4. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

thinking fast and slow by daniel kahneman book cover

Thinking Fast and Slow was released in 2011 and is a fantastic book for managers that want to understand how people generally think. The book’s primary focus is about two different styles of thinking, delving into the dichotomy between them. 

The first system is fast, emotional, and purely based on instinct, whereas the second one is more logical, requires more deliberation, and is slower. It talks about how to frame choices and takes a deep dive into more than a decade’s worth of research about how human judgment has evolved. 

This is one of the best reads for managers that want to understand how their subordinates may approach different situations. Once you have a better understanding, you can obviously work to structure milestones and situations in a way that benefits your teams. 

5. Radical Inclusion by Ori Brafman

radical inclusion by martin dempsey book cover

Inclusivity and diversity in the workplace are both crucial concepts. As a manager, if you don’t have a diverse team under you, you could be missing out on a lot. 

Radical Inclusion talks about the change in society after 9/11, and how exclusion eventually led to a serious breakdown of trust, loss of power, and, ultimately, loss of control. In today’s dynamic environment, it is essential for companies to be as inclusive as possible. 

The book states that if you want to maintain control within the organization, you need to give more control to your subordinates. Fostering trust is critical this book will tell you just how to do that. 

6. Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

leadership the power of emotional intelligence by daniel goleman book cover

Daniel Goleman’s book completely changed how people approached workplace management. In this book, Goleman argued that non-cognitive skills were just as important as IQ, which, at the time, was an unprecedented concept. 

By providing insights into how emotion plays a vital role in the workplace, and by talking about the different ways by which people can inspire each other, Goleman talks about the importance of valuing emotional intelligence. 

Nowadays, this is all the more critical. Workplaces are becoming more and more dynamic and making sure that you have emotionally intelligent people who play to each other’s strengths could be just what you need to succeed as a team.

7. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

how to win friends and influence people book cover

Dale Carnegie was one of the pioneers of self-improvement, and his works are still widely circulated today. This has to be one of the most popular books on leadership ever written, simply because of its timeless concepts. 

Carnegie focuses on what makes a good manager, talking about how you can make people feel included and important, and how you can appreciate their work. It’s a simple, actionable book that gives you a bunch of tips that’ll make you not just a better manager, but also a better negotiator and, above all, a better leader. 

8. It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques From The Best Damn Ship in the Navy by Captain Michael Abrashoff

it's your ship by michael abrashuff book cover

Captain Abrashoff was in command of the U.S.S. Benfold, one of the first ships to include anti-aircraft systems and missiles. The ship was fitted with the latest technology of its time, which significantly increased the responsibility on the manager’s shoulder. 

When Abrashoff took charge, he realized that many of the crew members were unmotivated, and since lethargy is so contagious, it didn’t take long before the performance was dipping. 

Understanding the need to change his approach towards leadership, Abrashoff made quite a few alterations, which resulted in his crew members regaining their confidence, becoming more proactive, and above all, motivated. 

In this book, Abrashoff talks about the strategies that he used. Almost every manager has dealt with unmotivated teams. This book gives you everything you need to energize your crew. 

9. Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman

multipliers by liz wiseman book cover

Liz Wiseman is a leadership expert, focusing on different styles of leadership and identifying situations where they might be suitable. In this short book, Wiseman details two different leadership styles and talks about Multipliers and the effect that they can have on organizational performance.

What’s a Multiplier, you ask? Essentially, it’s anyone who gets more done while consuming fewer resources. On the opposite end are Diminishers, who Wiseman believes drain creativity from teams and make them more robotic. 

This book is a fascinating read that can help managers better understand the strengths of their teams, identify Multipliers, and cultivate them to improve performance across the board. 

10. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink

drive by daniel h pink book cover

Daniel Pink’s fantastic book is an excellent read for people who want to know exactly what it is that motivates others. It veers away entirely from the conventional carrot-and-stick management style, instead delving into the science about what makes people do what they do. 

In the book, Pink states that people are motivated by three things: mastery, purpose, and autonomy. Understanding how to provide these three things to your employees could be just what you need to build a motivated team of professionals, and this book will teach you just how to do that. 

11. The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle

the culture code by daniel coyle book cover

Coyle’s The Culture Code is an excellent book that talks about organizational culture, its importance, and the influences that can affect it. Daniel Coyle talks about the different types of workplace cultures and the strengths and weaknesses of each. 

More importantly, the book provides actionable tips on how managers can build diverse workplace cultures. It includes information about popular businesses like Zappos, the San Antonio Spurs, and even entities like the Navy Seals, and how they each develop such robust workplace cultures. 

This book will teach you everything you need to know to build excellent workplace culture, using the teachings of some of the world’s most successful organizations.

12. The Practice of Management by Peter Drucker

the practice of management by peter f drucker book cover

First published in 2006, The Practice of Management by Peter Drucker is an excellent read for those who want to understand management in more detail. 

The book distinguishes between management, and what it takes to become a manager, after which it then delves into different management theories and practices. By discussing fundamental management concepts and linking them with the change in modern workplaces, Peter Drucker’s book will teach you how to be a better, more empathetic manager. 

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

good to great by jim collins book cover

Jim Collins’ fantastic book is one of the best reads for professionals who want to learn about what separates good companies from great companies. This is a prequel to Built to Last, which Collins wrote with Jerry Porras. 

In his management research, Collins went through over 6,000 articles and conducted thousands of interviews. Collins and his team meticulously followed some of the most impactful managers in companies like Walgreens and Kimberly-Clark. 

Collins also introduces what’s known as the Hedgehog Concept, which is a unique product or service that allows companies to outdo the competition. It’s an excellent read for executives and managers in fast-growing companies. 

14. First, Break All The Rules by Gallup

first break all the rules by marcus buckingham and curt coffman book cover

Gallup’s behemoth study of more than 80,000 managers takes a deep dive into some of the most innovative and unique approaches that the world’s most successful managers use. 

It’s an insightful study into how managers from different backgrounds use various styles, and how they all share some common attributes that set them apart, despite all of their differences. 

Gallup’s research is highly detailed and insightful and will help you become a better manager. It also includes some essential statements that set the most crucial departments of companies apart. 

15. The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo

the making of a manager by julie zhuo book cover

Julie Zhuo’s book is the perfect read for people just starting in a management position. She lists her own experiences and talks about the challenges people face in the role. 

Think of it as an excellent field guide that you can use to not just identify great managers in your company, but discover what it takes to become one. It’s a fantastic read that goes into comprehensive detail about the demands of the role. 

Managers can learn quite a few interesting techniques about operating in dynamic companies. Julie’s managed hundreds of people in her professional career, so she shares some really insightful advice from her career too.

16. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni

the five dysfunctions of a team by patrick lencioni book cover

Lencioni is famous for weaving fantastic stories into self-help books, and this one’s no different. The book follows the story of Kathryn Petersen, the CEO of a tech company, and how she faces different leadership challenges. 

As the story unfolds, Lencioni talks about the different dysfunctions of a team and the impact that they can have on even the best groups. It’s a riveting fable, with Lencioni using his storytelling abilities to full effect. 

Not only does it make for a great story, but the lessons in this book are timeless and highly appropriate for modern-day managers.

17. Turn the Ship Around! A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders by L. David Marquet

turn the ship around by david marquet book cover

Captain David Marquet, the commander of the USS Santa Fe, provides a masterclass on leadership in this book. Instead of focusing on fundamental principles and repeating those, again and again, Marquet weaves a tale about how he took charge of a crew of low performers and turned them into an efficient team. 

In this book, he breaks down his philosophy by talking about three essential parts: clarity, control, and competence. He provides a unique way of looking at problems and talks about how culture plays a vital role in employee performance. 

It’s an excellent book by a man who managed one of the most demanding groups in the world in high-pressure situations. 

Books Are Timeless Teachers, Especially for Managers

These are some of the best management books that you can read to improve your skills as a manager in 2022. However, it’s essential to understand that management is not an exact science. 

What works for someone else might not work for you, which is why it’s important to continue to adapt your management style and find exactly what clicks for your team. 

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