10 Essential Management Books You Need to Read This Year
Learning about management is often seen as a practical process that can only happen on the job. However, learning to better communicate, delegate and motivate others can also come from management books.
A search for the term ‘management books’ will return millions of results, with an overwhelming number of potential blurbs and summaries to read through.
To save you the hassle of rifling through these results, we’ve compiled the noteworthy titles and stellar authors for you to peruse.
Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull
Animation studio Pixar have reinvented the wheel, both on the silver screen and with their workplace practices. In this book, co-founder Ed Catmull shares their secrets to success and gives the reader actionable ways to implement this thinking in their own workplace.
Creativity is a key for this workplace and this book will teach you how to emphasise your organisation’s core values within any team. Pixar are known as industry leaders and creative powerhouses, with employees at the top of their game.
Working towards these workplace ideals by defying convention and supporting employees to achieve their goals. Pixar credit their success to the organisational culture that they have nurtured, which allows employees to take risks and change the status quo.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Published in 1936, this is one of the most popular management books of all time. While the text was created almost a century ago, the principles remain salient to this day. The book is split into logical sections, so you can easily learn to manage people and enhance your reputation.
The basis of these lessons is psychologically sound and can change perceptions around your management style. If you struggle to motivate your team or influence them to take the lead, then this book can offer a solution.
The book gives you tips and tactics to relate to your team more effectively, whether you’re giving bad news or asking for a favour. This book continues to sell 100,000 copies annually, as managers worldwide glean insight from the author.
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
According to Simon Sinek, the most effective way to influence employees is to start with their ‘why’. This refers to their motivation or purpose that drives all their decisions, then you can use this to tap into their potential.
By determining this, managers can better relate to their staff and this leads onto the ‘how’ and ‘what’. Sinek is renowned for his TEDTalks, which catapulted him towards international recognition and spread this message to managers.
He asserts that some of the most influential people in the world have used this tactic to their advantage – starting with the ‘why’ that encourages buy in from teams.
The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way Your Lead Forever by Bungay Stanier
Many coaches and leaders feel an intense pressure to have all the answers. When mentees come to you, asking about their future and the next steps they should take, this pressure can feel almost overwhelming.
This book comprises of a series of questions, which you can use to provoke people to solve problems for themselves. This helps you to lead the conversation through questioning and identifying the crux of the issue at hand.
These questions direct the conversation from ‘what’s on your mind?’ to kick off the discussion to ‘what’s the real challenge here for you?’ to really investigate the issue. This book will help you to cultivate your curiosity and empower your people to work towards solutions.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
This is another stalwart management book, which has gained notoriety since its release in 1989. This book will take you through habits that you can use to become more effective in management and beyond. With these, you can organise your time well and categorise tasks for the best outcomes.
The feeling of being overwhelmed is the enemy and this book will help you to tackle tasks in a logical way. As well as focusing on tasks as an individual, it also gives you actionable advice to change team dynamics. This helps to spread the productive mindset outwards and intensify the gains from these habits.
Leaders can benefit a lot from this book, as can the teams that they work with. Increasing empathy and listening skills throughout the team can lead to better productivity overall.
Eat That Frog! Get More of The Important Things Done Today by Brian Tracy
If you frequently find yourself with a spiralling to do list, which you never quite seem to reach the end of, then you’re not managing your time as well as you could be.
The title of this book refers to the saying you must eat a live frog each morning, then you can go about the rest of your day with the knowledge that the worst that the day has to offer has already happened.
The book teaches that you should tackle your frog first thing, freeing up the rest of your day for other challenges. Your frog will be the biggest, most important task that you have to do that day. You should tackle your ugliest, trickiest frogs early in the day, then you can revel in the fact that these are taken care of.
This basic formula is expanded upon and described further in the book, to teach readers new habits around time management.
Leadership: Plain and Simple by Steve Radcliffe
There are three simple steps to follow in this book, focusing on the need to plan for the future, engage others, and deliver the progress. The basics are simple, and the author gives readers steps to use at each stage in the equation.
These steps can be used for a variety of changes, from small-scale operational shifts to longer-term disruptions. The author describes these capabilities as muscles and intends to teach readers how to train those muscles throughout the book.
As you work through the lessons of the book, you’ll shift your mindset to achieve more, and reach higher levels of growth.
21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell
We often think of leadership as having no hard and fast rules. This is a view challenged by the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, which aims to give leaders a toolkit of rules to finesse their professional skills.
Using real-life examples, Maxwell breaks down the principles that allow leaders to excel, with cautionary tales of what can happen if you don’t follow each of these laws. Using examples of successful and unsuccessful leaders, the author illustrates his assertions throughout the chapters.
On many of the pages, there are small action points that are easily digested and implemented into your day-to-day routine.
The New One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
The original One Minute Manager book was published in 1982 and this updated version brings the teachings right up to date. As the book is entirely focused on fitting as much as possible into your time, it’s a quick read of just over 100 pages.
Through a series of speedy chapters, eager managers can learn how to handle management tasks in a mere minute. The authors cover one-minute goals, praise, and reprimands to free up time while still managing effectively.
Cutting down on wasted management time clears up more time to be productive. By sticking to minute-long management practices for basic processes, you’ll have more time in your day to tackle tasks.
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni
While the make up of your team is unique, the problems and pitfalls that they face tend to fall into just a few simple dysfunctions. Lencioni seeks to categorise and solve these dysfunctions for increased productivity.
Lencioni uses a fictional organisation as the setting for the scenario, using a new leadership hire as the catalyst for these issues. While your organisation may not share many similarities with the fictional company or their employees, the team dynamics at play offer a lesson for many organisations.
The narrative that underpins the lessons in this book gives it an edge when compared to dry management volumes. By understanding why this fictional team fails, you can seek to improve the function of your own teams.
No matter whether you’re a first-line manager in your first management role, or an old hat – there’s always something new to learn about these processes. Continue to develop yourself to become a more effective leader.