The Best Books For Managers

The Best Management Books
Some of my management books on their way to be donated to the library.

I’ve been kicked out of my home office. Again. First my son was born, and he stole it, and now my soon-to-be daughter is stealing my office. Last week I painted my former work sanctuary pink.

Here’s the worst part – as an avid reader, I’ve been building an impressive library in that room, with the hopes that someday someone would come over to my house and walk into my office and be so impressed with my library they would think, “Now here’s a smart fellow,” as I blissfully watched them peruse my conquests. Never happened.

Now that I’ve donated all of my books to my public library the question is, how am I going to show everyone how smart I am and brag about all of the books I’ve read? I’ve got it! I’ll blog about my favorite books!

A quick note about the progression of my list of the best books for managers: I no longer read non-fiction or any contemporary books. I only read classics now. I got there by starting with self-help books which were quick, easy, fun to read, and they built my confidence for bigger challenges. Then I moved on to technical books about the profession of management before zooming out and reading popular books about the wide world of business. Then I read Hemingway, and realized what I was missing. In this post, I wrote about how classics have stood the test of time, and how they teach us about the beauty within the human heart – and what more do you need to know about business, management, or leadership beyond what lies in the human heart?

So if you’re not currently reading a lot, and you want to make a hobby out of it, start with the gateway books. If already you have a few trophies in your library, pick up a classic and thank me later.

The Gateway Books: Self-Help

Steven Covey Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
Covey’s path to being effective.

Management Techniques

The World of Business

  • Tipping Point; Blink; Outliers – Thought-provoking trio of books from New Yorker staff writer Malcolm Gladwell, who is a best-seller machine at this point.
  • The Effective Executive – A business exists to fulfill an unmet need in society, and managers are knowledge workers. Many consider this one of the most important works on management of the twentieth century.
  • Good to Great – Even if you haven’t read it you’ve probably heard someone at work talk about facing the brutal facts, discovering your hedgehog concept, or getting the right people on the rights seats on your bus.

Classics: Real Books To Change Your Life

The greatest book ever written by man.
The greatest book ever written by man.
  • All the King’s Men – The quintessential politician Willie Stark teaches us how to give a speech (even if you’re a bit green) and how to manipulate and influence in the world of power.
  • The Great Gatsby – It turns out that ambition, greed, and a lust for the American Dream are actually evil things, and that is a valuable lesson for some ambitious and greedy corporate ladder climbers. The greatest last two paragraphs to end any book ever written.
  • War and Peace – Why read five terrible books when you can read the greatest book ever written by man in the same amount of time? Everything you will ever need to know about leadership is written best in War and Peace, and it is NOT hard to read, just a bit on the long side. It also has comedy, romance, and drama in the peace parts, and suspense, thrill, and horror in the war parts. Oh ya, and you’ll learn the meaning of life by the end too.

Please let me know if you will read or have read any of my recommendations. What would you add or take away?