The 8 Best Management Books of 2020

Learn how to be a more effective boss

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Management is a skill that can always be improved. Reading up on new strategies will make you stronger at delegating, problem-solving and organizing. Being open to new concepts is a great way to demonstrate to your team how you are willing to work together to build something amazing. What does it take to be the most effective manager you can be? Of course, it takes excellent communication skills as well as an understanding of business concepts. But it also takes understanding how people and teams work, how to value and appropriate your time and how to prioritize in a way that will allow you and your organization to succeed.

Best for Getting Things Done: The Effective Executive

The Effective Executive
Courtesy of Amazon

You can be the smartest and the most brilliant person at your company, and you could even be beloved by the media and your community, but if you are not good at getting things done, you’re on the fast track to being an unsuccessful leader. Veteran business writer Peter F. Drucker’s book has a simple premise: The measure of the executive is his or her ability to “get the right things done.” While this is a straightforward idea, it is harder to put into practice than you might imagine. It requires the help of a great team, but also the ability to spot things others may have missed, to manage your time well and knowing how to set priorities. In this book, you’ll learn how to be a better boss and member of your team.

Best for Learning How To Be Heard: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

If you are a manager, it’s essential that people take what you say seriously and put it into practice. To accomplish this, you will need to master the art of persuasion. Dr. Robert Cialdini’s book breaks down the fundamental concepts behind this unique art and teaches you how to become an expert at persuasive business communications. Cialdini explains the psychological studies that point to why and how people come to say “yes” instead of dismissing you outright, and teaches you how to apply the findings to your own life. This book will keep you glued to its pages with interesting interviews and personal stories from the author.

Best for Honing Your True Self: True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership

You can only become the best leader ever if you know what type of leader you were born to become. Written after conducting over 125 interviews and extensive research, this book shares the secrets of cultivating your most authentic self and leadership style. It is co-written by a former CEO who knows firsthand what works and what doesn't and guides you through five key areas in which you need to know yourself: how to define your leadership principles, how to understand your motivations and how to build the very best team you can. In addition to learning how to become a better leader, you will learn how to hone these skills in every area of your life and succeed in whatever you choose to take on.

Best for Understanding Your Baggage: Don’t Bring It To Work

Every office has its cast of characters — but do you ever stop and think about how those characters came to be? In this fascinating book, Dr. Sylvia Lafair explains the most common office personalities — from the Super Achiever and the Pleaser to the Drama Queen and the Avoider — and describes how these people came to be the way they are. Not only that but if you or your employees are suffering from any of the archetypes, Lafair’s advice can help you break out of the unhealthy mindspace and become your best work self. You’ll learn how to carefully observe your behavior to discover patterns, probe deeper into your past and positively transform your work self. The book also includes helpful workbook exercises to help you put your learnings into practice.

Best for Building A Great Organization: Radical Inclusion

It is hard to think of a more unlikely co-author team than a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and an organizational culture consultant. But believe it or not, the pair have been friends for over a decade and have written one of the most influential books about radical inclusion — the idea that managers should include as many team members as possible, rather than building small and intensely focused teams. Using the aftermath of 9/11 as an example, the two explain how exclusion leads to losing control, an erosion of trust and losing power. In today’s changing world, to maintain power in your organization, you’ll need to relinquish more control than you are comfortable with and cherish trust at all costs.

Best for HR: Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility

Netflix has a robust set of counterintuitive policies that guide their hiring practices, and they are valuable tools for any team building, no matter what industry. The former chief talent officer at Netflix, Patty McCord, has delivered this incisive volume to help you understand those practices — and how to make them work for you. Most companies, she says, have it all wrong: they should be radically honest and get rid of people who aren’t a good fit, for the good of both them and the company. Rather than rewarding doing your job, you should give employees fulfilling work that they’ll want to do in the first place. But our favorite part of this book is her rule about hiring: “no brilliant jerks” allowed.

Best for Building A Happy Team: The Culture Code

When you hear “great workplace culture,” you might think of happy teams of tech startup members chugging artisanal coffee by day, palling around with their coworkers at happy hour by night, and taking a vacation when it is most convenient for them, no questions asked from the company. But while this mentality works for many companies, it does not work for many others. So how do you build the most effective culture for your company? In this book, Daniel Coyle explains how a diverse group of awesome workplace cultures, from the U.S. Navy Seals and the San Antonio Spurs to Zappos, built their incredibly effective organizations — and shows you how you can use their learnings in your own life. Once you read this, you’ll have a good grasp on how to create an office environment that fosters innovation and exceeds your wildest expectations.

Best for Unexpected Situations: Thinking In Bets

If managers always had all of the facts before they made any decisions, they wouldn’t get anywhere. Thankfully, there is a proven way to make better decisions when you are missing some or all of what you feel is critical information. While there is, of course, a bit of luck that goes into whether something succeeds or fails, it helps if you can think like a professional gambler: which outcome is most likely given certain actions that I take? This book, written by former World Series of Poker champion Annie Duke (who now consults for multinational companies), will help you do just that: Cultivate a cool and calm mindset for making decisions somewhat blind and under pressure.