The 8 Best Management Books of 2021
Brush up on your leadership skills
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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. 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 Overall: Influence
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 "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" 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 on Workplace Culture: The Culture Code
When you hear “great workplace culture,” you might think of happy tech startup teams enjoying happy hours after work and taking vacations when it's 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 "The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups," 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 on Productivity: The Effective Executive
You can be the smartest and the most brilliant person at your company, or even be beloved by the media and your community, but if you're not good at getting things done, you’re on the fast track to being an unsuccessful leader. Veteran business writer Peter F. Drucker’s management book, "The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done," 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.
Related: The Best Productivity Books
Best on Inclusivity: Radical Inclusion
It's 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, "Radical Inclusion: What the Post-9/11 World Should Have Taught Us About Leadership" explains 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.
Related: The Best Leadership Books
Best on Workplace Behavior: 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 "Don't Bring It to Work: Breaking the Family Patterns That Limit Success," 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. Additionally, if you or your employees are suffering from any of the archetypes, Lafair’s advice can help you break out of the unhealthy mind space and become your best 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 management book also includes helpful workbook exercises to put your learnings into practice.
Best for HR: Powerful
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, wrote "Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility" 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 management book is her rule about hiring: “no brilliant jerks” allowed.
Related: The Best Career Books
Best Self-Help: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Stephen R. Covey's "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" is a classic, best-selling self-help book, and with good reason: in it, he shares an approach for solving personal and professional problems. Through anecdotes and insights, this step-by-step guide reveals principles for living with fairness, integrity, service, and dignity. These principles aim to help you adapt to change and how to take advantage of opportunities with new changes. This management book, which was first published in 1989 and has influenced CEOs, presidents, and other leaders, still continues to be relevant today.
Best for Beginners: First, Break All the Rules
To truly understand what makes a great manager, Gallup interviewed more than 80,000 managers and presents their findings in "First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently." Perfect for managers of any level, the book outlines important performance and career lessons, how to apply them, and as the title suggests, explains what separates great managers from the rest. Essentially, despite having different leadership styles and backgrounds, these successful managers share one thing in common: they don't hesitate to break rules held sacred by conventional wisdom. The management book also features 12 statements that help distinguish a company's strongest department from the others. Plus, this re-release version includes Gallup's Q12 employee engagement survey, the most effective measure of employee performance.