Management skills are not qualities people are born with. They have to learn them and grow as they tackle new challenges in their work and careers.
How do people acquire management skills? They come from a combination of resources, including superiors and employees on the job, networking, taking courses, and, of course, reading books. In fact, some of the soundest management advice you’ll discover will come from what you read. Fortunately for you, we’ve rounded up some of the most important writing on how to manage and lead available.
Including books for new managers and seasoned leaders alike, here is your ultimate guide to the best management books.
The 17 Best Management Books for New and Experienced Managers Alike
By Stephen R. Covey
Success requires a balance of both personal and professional effectiveness, Stephen Covey reveals in the original version of this book, first published in 1989. His step-by-step advice for living one’s life with integrity, fairness, service, and human dignity continues to resonate 18 years later—and provides a roadmap for responding to opportunities and adapting to change.
By Ed Catmull
The co-founder and president of Pixar Animation reveals the creativity and leadership principles that have made the Academy Award-winning studio what it is today. Ed Catmull describes how his own journey and the personal management philosophies led to the creation of films like the Toy Story trilogy, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Up, WALL-E, and Inside Out.
3. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
By Brené Brown
This an important book for anyone to read, and managers can certainly benefit from recognizing and embracing vulnerability in both their personal and professional lives. Rather than being a weakness, vulnerability gives us the power to bring more purpose to our lives, Brené Brown argues. Allowing oneself to be vulnerable also involves courage and risk—the core of a manager’s position. From this guide, readers will learn how to take bold steps and “dare greatly” by accepting their own vulnerability.
By Sylvia Lafair
Some behaviors don’t belong in the workplace. In this book, Sylvia Lafair shows readers how to break common disruptive patterns in the workplace by recognizing problems, understanding their root causes, and fostering a better, more creative and productive workplace for everyone. Lafair includes plenty of real-life anecdotes and exercises to enable managers to gain and practice conflict-resolution skills.
By Daniel Goleman
In 1995, Daniel Goleman introduced a new concept that plays a large factor in determining success in all spheres of life: emotional intelligence. Distinct from IQ, emotional intelligence deals with how people communicate, form relationships, and understand their own strengths and weaknesses. In this classic book, Goleman explores how everyone can leverage and improve their emotional intelligence to become a better leader.
6. The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter, Updated and Expanded
By Michael D. Watkins
New leaders of organizations—whether they are managers for the first time or are transitioning to a new organization from a previous role—face challenges managers who have led teams for a period of time don’t. The first three months are critical to their success, which is why Michael D. Watkins offers proven strategies for avoiding pitfalls and achieving your organization’s goals—as well as your own.
By Loren B. Belker, Jim McCormick, and Gary S. Topchik
Reaching the managerial level is a huge accomplishment, but what how do you lead effectively once you get there? Covering topics such as hiring and firing, leadership, motivation, time management, working with superiors, and more, this is one of the most important resources for new managers to read. Now in its sixth edition, any rising leader will find invaluable advice in this guide.
By Dale Carnegie
Originally published in 1936, the classic management guide, full of time-tested advice, remains relevant to today’s workplace and manager. Dale Carnegie offers strategies for making people like you, swaying them to your way of thinking, and implementing change in others without causing resentment in them.
By Peter F. Drucker
This field-defining work, originally published in 1974, is one of the most comprehensive and definitive books on management as a whole available. Peter Drucker explores and defines every facet of management from performance to environment to structure and presents a framework for managers to meet the challenges and demands of a rapidly evolving business world.
10. Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office: Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers
By Lois P. Frankel
In this must-have guide for women managers and those aspiring to be managers, executive coach Lois P. Frankel explores over 130 behaviors that sabotage women in their careers, from multitasking to asking permission to failing to negotiate. Avoiding these pitfalls can allow women to achieve important opportunities at every career level. The latest edition is revised and updated to account for new issues and trends such as social media.
By John Kotter
This parable about an emperor penguin who discovers a problem that could destroy the entire community serves as a model for managers’ need to develop strategies for dealing with change and obstacles. We all struggle with the uncertainty of a changing environment, but as John Kotter suggests, those who are willing to adapt will survive. In eight steps, Kotter presents a valuable framework for producing change in teams of any size and type.
By Patty McCord
As the chief talent officer at Netflix, Patty McCord helped create a unique office culture and high-performing team. From her lessons from Netflix and other organizations, McCord offers important takeaways, advocating methods such as practicing radical honesty and motivating employees with challenging work, rather than with bonuses. This is a different model for running a business—and an effective one.
By Simon Sinek
Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? This is the question Simon Sinek poses in Start with Why. He argues that people need to understand the why—the motivation—behind a product or services in order to buy it. Leaders who start with this philosophy will influence people—from employees to customers—the most, and Sinek shows them how to do it with this framework.
By Tom Rath/Gallup
What do you do best? Often, people aren’t fully utilizing their strengths, which is why Gallup introduced its online assessment, StrengthsFinder, in 2001. The assessment has assisted in helping people identify their top five talents to encourage them to use their strengths for nearly two decades. Now a reference in book form with hundreds of strategies for applying strengths, StrengthsFinder 2.0 includes actionable advice, a personalized Strengths Discovery and Action-Planning Guide, and many more features to help managers and others leverage their talents.
By Annie Duke
No one knows that success requires an element of luck better than Annie Duke, a former World Series of Poker champion turned consultant. In this book, she explores how people can embrace uncertainty and make better decisions, explaining the need to shift the thinking from the certainty of achieving the desired outcome to recognizing what you do and don’t know. Ultimately, she argues, this will lead to more rational, confident decision-making—the cornerstone of success.
By Daniel Kahneman
The psychologist and Nobel Prize in Economics recipient explores two systems that drive our thinking. System 1 is fast and intuitive, while System 2 is slower and deliberate. In this book, Kahneman describes how readers can tap into their slow thinking to make sounder decisions in both their business and personal lives.
By Spencer Johnson
Foreword by Kenneth Blanchard
Change happens whether people are ready for it or not. Using a deceptively simple parable, Dr. Spencer Johnson reveals what matters what it comes to adapting your attitude and yourself to a changing world. This is an important book for managers and other professionals to learn how to accept and deal with change without letting it get the best of you.
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