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Whether it was through a group project in school, your first job, or someone in your family, we’ve all encountered leaders in our lives. Good ones are sure to inspire you, challenge you, and hold you to your highest potential. They’re strong communicators, or are charismatic, or have something intangible that makes you want to do everything they ask. You’ll remember good leaders forever. We all have stories of that English or Biology or Coding teacher who changed our lives.
On the other end is the not-so-great leaders who are sure to make your life awful. The micro-managers. The absent ones. The ones that demand respect without giving any in return. A bad leader can make you dread going to work or school. They can send otherwise great workers running for the hills. They’re the ones who make it clear that leadership is a skill to be worked on rather than an inherent talent.
Luckily for us all, there are many books to help us in our journey to be better leaders. Even if you’re not in a management role, leadership skills can help in your relationships, friendships, family, and even your perception of yourself. We all can benefit from these top management books.
Top Management Books
Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Jennifer L. Eberhardt
If you’re the leader of a team, this is a must read to break down our biases and make our leadership more inclusive. Through stories from small neighborhoods or large institutions, Dr. Ebergardt presents the psychology behind the prejudices we hold and ways to work through them in a way that’s easy to understand.
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There’s a difference between what you do and why you do it. Sinek says to start with the why. Or, as has been repeated over and over, to follow your passion. That’s where the difference between success and failure comes from. Where good leaders become great ones. And where followers are sure to get inspired. To find your passion, start here.
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink
The carrot-and-stick punishment-reward leadership style of years ago is, to Pink, not nearly as successful as everyone thinks it is. Instead, leaders should cater to employee’s inherent drive through autonomy, passion, and control. They should let them create their own goals, follow what interests them, and appeal to their sense of accomplishment. Positive results are sure to follow.
The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations by James Kouzes and Barry Posner
This manual of leadership is a must-read for current and future managers. Through extensive examples, Kouzes and Posner present practices and traits of exemplary leadership in the current workplace. You’re sure to walk away with practical next steps to develop your leadership skills and make your employees shine.
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
What makes successful people, well, successful? Gladwell explores exactly that by delving into backgrounds, upbringing, and timings of those the best in their fields. It’s important for managers to think about the factors that go into what makes a person successful, both those in their control and out. This book will teach you just that.
#Values: The Secret to Top Level Performance in Business and Life by Dr. Betty Uribe
We all know what values are. Some people value money, others community. But, do you know how to identify what yours are? Or, how to develop them to better support your life, career, and company? Dr. Uribe, through many interviews with leaders in various areas of the world and her own stories from her life, lays it out for you. You’ll walk away with a much clearer list of your core values and a deeper understanding of yourself.
Some leaders, for no obvious reason, inspire employees. They make ideas happen. They motivate their people to deliver above and beyond. These leaders are the multipliers. Wiseman explores these types of leaders. What makes them and how we can be them too. These types of leaders are not born this way, but develop through practice and skills. May we all be multipliers.
First, Break All the Rules: What the world’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman
This one delves into the importance of the front-line manager. Those who can recognize what talents their employees have and help them build upon their unique strengths to get their teams to thrive. Through studies of supervisors, major companies, and small-level managers, this book explores how leaders can break rules to get the best out of their people.
We all know the stereotype of managers, right? The demanding, closed-off, shadowy figure looming over the entire office? Well, this book argues against that. It declares that managers don’t have to lose their kindness and compassion. In fact, these traits make them excellent leaders who challenge their followers, help them grow, and care about them all at the same time.
Humble Leadership: The Power of Relationships, Openness, and Trust by Edgar Schein and Peter Schein
Say goodbye to the top-down, unavailable leaders of the past and say hello to a new kind of leadership based on empathy and vulnerability in one of the top management books. Leaders who make their followers feel safe and valued will get more creativity, more development, and more results from those beneath them. This is one of the top management books for working on your humility and empathy.
Okay, we’ve all wondered why on Earth some of our coworkers or followers act the way they do. Especially when it makes no sense. Tett explores our tendency to be blind, sometimes, in the workplace and to explain the psychology behind why. We can get stuck, sometimes, inside boxes of all kinds. Tett encourages us to think outside of these in order to thrive.
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
Through the stories of spelling bee competitors, new teachers, and West Point cadets, Duckworth teaches us about grit. In a world where you can look around and see others doing what you want seemingly effortlessly, this book makes a case for effort over easiness. For drive and passion and sweat. While things may not come naturally to you, what you continue to put time into will pay off. You just have to keep trying.
Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton
The first step to being a good leader is to know what your strengths are. But, sometimes, self reflection is difficult. Buckingham and Dr. Clifton show people how to discover their talent and see the strengths of those beneath them. The Strengths Finder Profile will help you discover what those are and how they’ll benefit your ability to lead. You can only improve if you know your baseline.
Diversity in the Workplace: Eye-Opening Interviews to Jumpstart Conversations about Identity, Privilege, and Bias by Bärí A. Williams
Through interviews with people inside our workplaces, Williams shows us all the importance of creating an inclusive workplace in the modern world. The interviewees from various gender, racial, and religious backgrounds are given space to speak freely about what it’s like to work today, so we all can learn how to better lead everyone.
The leader of her company, Student Maid, Kristen Hadeed tells readers about the development of the company and the mistakes she made along the way. Just like everyone else, leaders aren’t perfect. And we should stop expecting them to be. Hadeed instead tells us to embrace the ways we fall short and how we can learn to be better from them. She gives us all permission to screw up in one of the top management books for new leaders.