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9 Books Every Manager Should Read

December 5, 2017
9 min read
9 Books Every Manager Should Read
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Books are the most powerful thing in the world. They can open your mind to a whole new world – a world full of knowledge, wisdom, and possibilities. The right book can empower you with years of experience of others along with the ability to generate some mind-blowing ideas of your own.

Harry S. Truman – the 33rd President of the United States of America pointed out aptly, Not all readers are leaders but all leaders are readers.” Steve Jobs had an inexhaustible interest in William Blake; Nike founder Phil Knight so reveres his library that you have to take off your shoes first and then enter in it. Elon Musk, the brain behind gigantic companies like Tesla Motors and SpaceX, is an avid reader. Bill Gates reads about 50 books per year. Mark Cuban reads for more than 3 hours a day.

From this, we can easily make out that reading is one of the daily habits that most successful people have. But successful people don’t read anything that comes in their hand. They are highly selective about what they read. They prefer to be educated than to be entertained. In fact, there is a notable difference between the reading habits of the wealthy and not-so-wealthy. They prefer educational, biographies and autobiographies of other successful people over novels, tabloids, and magazines.

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There are so many books that talk about management and leadership but only a few qualify for must-reads for managers.

Below are top 9 books that ProofHub recommends every manager should read:

1. How To Win Friends and Influence People

Author: Dale Carnegie

Why it’s a must-read: Published in 1936, the book has survived the test of time brilliantly and is still quite relevant after 70 years. It talks about the importance of soft skills in professional as well as personal lives. This classic shares some timeless advice such as the importance of a smile, need to avoid complaining and making people feel important. It had a profound impact on Warren Buffett who read the book when he was 15 years old.

Best quote: “Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.”

2. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

Subtitle: Follow Them and People Will Follow You

Author: John C. Maxwell

Why it’s a must-read: Leadership is simple yet complicated phenomena which has been explained in thousands of ways by thousands of people. However, this book entails the different traits and leadership techniques in a way that is easiest to read, comprehend and apply. Maxwell offers real-life stories hidden with leadership advice and exercises to improve your leadership style.

Best quote: “Many people view leadership the same way they view success, hoping to go as far as they can, to climb the ladder, to achieve the highest position possible for their talent. But contrary to conventional thinking, I believe the bottom line in leadership isn’t how far we advance ourselves but how far we advance others. That is achieved by serving others and adding value to their lives.”

3. The Art of War

Author: Sun Tzu

Why it’s a must-read: Sun Tzu was a military general who lived in an era of chinese history that was marked by vassal states competing each others. This book is a thorough guide-plan to winning. The books is composed of 13 chapters, each of which focuses on a different aspect of war. The writing is aggressive in nature that borrows references from military to explain concepts of leadership. It is not just a book but a philosophy of life that extends to every type of leadership.

Best quote: “If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking it easy, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.”

4. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Subtitle: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Author: Stephen R. Covey

Why it’s a must-read: Late Covey is known as one of the best leadership experts even today. This book focuses on the self rather than the organization. It has seven chapters of wisdom: Be proactive, Begin with the end in mind, Put first things first, Think win-win, Seek first to understand then to be understood, Synergize and Sharpen the saw. In this manual, Covey advises that true leadership starts from within and encourages readers to create a personal vision.

Best quote: Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.”

5. Good to Great

Subtitle: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t

Author: Jim Collins

Why it’s a must-read: It is a management book that describes the transition from being good to great and how most companies fail to make the transition through a series case studies. It has all the keys to success by which mediocre companies can achieve greatness – discipline, simplicity and great people are a few to name.

Best quote: Good is the enemy of great. We don’t have great schools, greta government or great companies because they are generally good – and that is their main problem.”

6. Leadership

Subtitle: The Power of Emotional Intelligence

Author: Daniel Goleman

Why it’s a must-read: Daniel Goleman is renowned psychologist and science writer. This volume is the author’s first comprehensive collection of his key findings on leadership and organizational excellence that includes the insights and most effective ways to inspire others. In context of the book Goleman says,”Consider the book as your toolbox. Each chapter is a unique and useful device that helps leaders, managers, human resource officers, and educators to effectively guide and motivate others.”

Best quote: People with well-developed emotional skills are also more likely to be content and effective in their lives, mastering the habits of mind that foster their own productivity; people who cannot marshal some control over their emotional life fight inner battles that sabotage their inability for focused work and clear thought.”

7. The One Minute Manager

Authors: Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

Why it’s a must-read: The One Minute Manager is a concise, easily read story that reveals three very practical secrets: One Minutes Goals, One Minute Praisings, and One Minute Reprimands. This is why the book has continued to appear on business bestseller lists for more than two decades and has managed to become an international sensation.

Best quote:The managers who were interested in results often seemed to be labeled ‘autocratic’, while the managers interested in people were often labeled ‘democratic’. The young man thought each of these managers – the ‘tough’ autocrat and the ‘nice’ democrat- were only partially effective. ‘It’s like being half a manager’, he thought. He returned home tired and discouraged. He might have given up his search long ago, but he had one great advantage. He knew exactly he was looking for. ‘Effective managers,’ he thought, ‘manage themselves and the people they work with so that both the organization and the people profit from their presence.”

8. The Effective Executive

Subtitle: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done

Author: Peter F. Drucker

Why it’s a must-read: Ranging widely through annals of business and government, Peter F. Drucker demonstrated the distinctive skill of the executive and offers fresh insights into old and seemingly obvious business situations. He identifies five practices essential to business effectiveness that can, and must, be learned: managing time, choosing what to contribute to the organization, knowing where and how to mobilize strength for best effect, setting the right priorities, knitting all of them together with effective decision-making.

Best quote: Intelligence, imagination and knowledge are essential resources, but only effectiveness converts them into results.”

9. The Obstacle is the Way

Subtitle: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumphs

Author: Ryan Holiday

Why it’s a must-read: The author has written this book to use philosophy as a system for being productive. Holiday, writes about using the philosophy of Stoicism as a mental model for being productive, not only in work, but in life itself. He has divided the book into three key sections – Perception, Action, and Will, where he has applied the view of Stoicism to hypothetical examples to relate the theory with the outside world.

Best quote: “You will come across obstacles in life- fair and unfair. And you will discover, time and time again, that what matters most is not what these obstacles are but how we see them, how we react to them, and whether we keep our composure.”

Why only nine?

I was going to make this a top 10 list but then we all have our favorites that leave a mark on our mind and we can’t stop raving about it. If you also have a favorite book, do leave a comment below with the name of the book, author and your favorite quote from it.

Must read books for project managers from ProofHub