Whether you are an experienced manager or stepping into a leadership role for the first time, we all need a little bit of inspiration, motivation and a fresh perspective from time to time, which is why we’ve compiled a reading list to help you achieve just that. Don’t worry, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill, dry business literature – instead, these books are genuinely a good and entertaining read and well worth your time. We’ve included our favourite musings from successful leaders from across the spectrum, from CEOs through business coaches to a legendary football manager and even an ancient Chinese military strategist, all of whom have been there, done it, and successfully navigated the myriad of challenges that come with managing people and bringing out the best in them.
Internationally acclaimed speaker, writer and management consultant Margaret Wheatley is channelling her in-depth experience working with a wide range of organisations into this book, which offers a brand new take on leadership and its challenges. Wheatley is widely regarded as the principal author on how new findings of quantum physics, chaos theory and molecular biology – the “new science” – bear upon organisational leadership and her findings are radically reshaping how we understand and act in the physical world.
Don’t be put off by the ‘science’ bit – in this book Wheatley provides an interesting, plausible and yet accessible guide to how the new science can be applied to organisations and management and how we can navigate our way through what she refers to as chaotic times. She outlines how we can effectively and meaningfully connect with people and build networks of cooperation and participation. Wheatley teaches us that relationships are at the core of everything, and that chaos and change are the only routes to transformation and success. Key messages to take away are 1. Managers establish the ethical and moral code for their business and 2. Ultimately, effective organisations are composed of individuals that are valued, given responsibility, encouraged and rewarded.
Experienced managers and team leaders who want to gain a different perspective on the mechanics of our modern world and how to lead within.
Apply Sun Tzu’s theories to modern day life and you have yourself a manual to live and work by. He was a military strategist, Taoist philosopher and general in ancient China, and his book The Art of War has influenced not only military tactics, but also business and legal strategy over the course of the millennia in both Eastern and Western societies. He won respect and notoriety for his ability to win battles using his leadership philosophy based on psychology rather than force. The book may have been written about war, but you can learn countless valuable lessons about business, too.
Written 500 BC, this book is still every bit as relevant in the 21st century as it was then. Translated into the world of business, Sun Tzu’s wisdoms teach us many key principles: Leaders lead by example, not by force. Great leaders are always in the front and the first in battle. Our biggest successes are best achieved through subtle diplomacy, dialogue and partnership. And when it comes to decision-making – one of the most critical aspects of good leadership – great leaders know when to fight and when to quit, when to inspire and when to drive, when to keep the status quo and when to adapt and change. And finally, one of the central mantras of this book, and one of our favourites, is the original ‘Fake it till you make it’ – or, as Sun Tzu puts it: “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”
Experienced managers, team leaders, entrepreneurs, people starting out in management – basically, pretty much everyone in business.
Sometimes, leading a property team in less than perfect market conditions can feel like standing on the side-lines of a sports match that’s just gone into overtime. There’s no denying that Alex Ferguson’s leadership skills are second to none. As the most successful and longest serving manager in UK football – he headed Manchester United for over a quarter of a century and won 38 trophies in the process – he knows a thing or two about managing teams and motivating people. In this book he gives a no nonsense first-hand account of his management style and the values that he built his success upon. While there is a big emphasis on football, it is also full of great insights and has become a go-to-reference for managers from all walks of life, whether that’s on the pitch or in the boardroom. You’re guaranteed to take something away from it, even if football isn’t really your thing.
Ferguson pulls no punches when it comes to sharing how he managed to keep his team at the top of the game. From hiring practices to firing decisions, from teamwork to handling failure and adversity, this book is full of practical tips and observations written from a personal and unique perspective. Our top 5 messages of this book include 1. treat everyone in your organisation with respect and make them feel valued 2. to have a well-functioning team not one single person is bigger than the rest 3. as a manager, sometimes you need to make risky and unpopular decisions and stand by them 4. sometimes you need to delegate the detail work to be able to see the bigger picture and 5. the most important job of managers is to motivate the people they manage.
Experienced managers who lead big or diverse teams, sometimes in difficult conditions, or having to manage multiple egos and ambitions.
This book has been a New York Times Number 1 Bestseller for a reason: In it, social scientist Brené Brown gives us the tools to face our fears and failures and – as the title suggests – “rise strong”. Brown draws on countless interviews with people who have shared their stories of being brave, falling and getting back up, from heads of Fortune 500 companies through artists, teachers to military leaders, all of whom have turned their stories of disappointment into success.
Brown is a leading authority on courage, vulnerability, shame and worthiness and her book powerfully demonstrates that struggle and failure are part of everyone’s story. Regardless of the magnitude or circumstance of our falls, Brown tells with compassion, heart and humour what it takes to get back up and re-write the ending of our stories. It’s this process, she argues, which is the key to empowerment and success.
Everyone, from recent graduates starting out to experienced managers, team leaders and entrepreneurs ready to face the challenges of the business world.
A classic for a reason, this is the ultimate management handbook, written by the guy who has been called everything from ‘manager of the century’ to an ‘icon of American business’. Jack Welch left US corporate giant General Electric in 2001 after having led the company as its CEO for 20 years and having grown its value by over 4000 per cent. Needless to say that his advice is worth following. “Winning” is, well, about exactly that, written and presented in clear, memorable nuggets of knowledge, with Welch’s unique and refreshing take on conventional management principles.
There are too many great lessons and quotes in this book to list, but from eight core leadership rules through tips on hiring and firing to how to motivate and retain staff with money, recognition and training, he tackles every aspect of successfully running a business / department / team and puts forward suggestions on how to foster a company culture where ideas flow freely and everyone works towards a common goal. It even covers how to be the best employee / version of yourself, as well as how to effectively manage a crisis (basically, assume it’s worse than you first imagined; but you will survive smarter and stronger). In a nutshell, this is one book you can’t afford not to read.
Recent graduates starting out in their first job, experienced executives who have become a little stale in their management style, managers and CEOs seeking an eye-opening no-nonsense guide to leadership.
If you’re looking for an alternative approach to leadership that is anchored in psychology, hypnotherapy, metaphysical research, spiritual teachings and meditation, then Bruce D. Schneider’s much revered study maybe just the one for you. A world-renowned life and corporate coach, Schneider has developed a ground-breaking theory of consciousness levels, the Energy Leadership Index, and here he explains how managers can tap into this energy and not only fulfil their own potential in the workplace (and in life), but also inspire others for peak performance.
Based on the assumption that energy is our most important personal resource and knowing how to harness it for our development, Schneider outlines seven levels of energy that an individual can operate on, each determining their success – the higher the level they aim for, the more effectively they will be as leaders. The book teaches how to distinguish truly effective leaders from those who zap the energy of the people around them, and specific techniques on how to shift energy levels.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that this sounds a bit like out there, but Schneider’s theories have been successfully applied by thousands of high regarded business leaders around the world and his book is among the most influential corporate coaching bibles out there. Fear not, he writes in an engaging and accessible manner, and you don’t need to have a PhD in psychology to see that his approach is not only thought-provoking, but indeed transformative.
New and experienced managers and those who want to look at their management style from a different angle.
Think of the leading figures in business and chances are they will have read Dale Carnegie’s book ‘How To Win Friends And Influence People’, arguably one of the most influential management manuals ever written and an international bestseller since it was first published in 1937. In this timeless self-help book which has deservedly become a classic, Carnegie presents fail-safe people-management techniques that still apply in our modern age.
There’s a reason that Carnegie’s book has sold more than 16 million copies worldwide – at the heart of it is the message that it pays to be nice and that if you want to lead people successfully, you’ll have to treat them with respect and kindness. Carnegie champions the belief that a good leader is not about ego and personal gain but defined by sincerity and humility. The book is packed with solid advice and musings that will help you analyse and tweak your own actions, and in turn bring out the best in your teams and staff.
Supervisors, team leaders, new and experienced managers.