Browsing Your Boss’s Bookshelf

Books worthy of the boss

Whether you’re hoping to advance your own career or simply better understand your supervisor’s methods, a peek at your boss’s bookshelf can prove instructive. Chances are, you’ll happen upon at least one of the following best business management books that have proved influential to many who inhabit corner offices.

‘The First-Time Manager’

Written by a trio of business executives (Loren Belker, Jim McCormick and Gary Topchik), this book is designed to provide essential advice to people who find themselves managing other workers for the first time. It notes key roles managers play, such as “coach, standard setter, performance appraiser, teacher, motivator, visionary.”

‘Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success’

Penned by Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania professor Adam Grant, this book draws on organizational psychology research to explain how workers who act primarily as “givers,” by readily sharing information with and assisting their colleagues, build strong work relationships and improve their chances of career success.

‘The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done’

This book, written in 1967 by influential management scholar Peter Drucker, counsels company leaders to discern where their own strengths lie and establish priorities that will enable them to make important contributions. Doing so requires them to avoid or cease activities that drain resources, like time and energy they need to reserve for more essential work.

‘Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.’

Empathy, vulnerability and a willingness to listen are key skills for business leaders, explains social work professor Brené Brown in this book. She recommends creating opportunities in the workplace for honest conversations.

‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’

In this book, Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist, explains the two systems people use to make decisions. The first is speedier, relying on intuition and emotion. The second is slower, drawing on logic. Leaders who learn to recognize which system is at play can improve their judgment and avoid cognitive pitfalls.

‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’

For more than 80 years, this book by communication coach and lecturer Dale Carnegie has taught readers the finer points of developing likability and persuading others to change their thoughts and behavior. For leaders, Carnegie recommends being generous with praise and encouragement, asking questions rather than giving orders and sharing responsibility for mistakes made.

‘Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High’

Managers have to participate in many important discussions, such as setting goals with superiors and giving performance evaluations to the people who report to them. This book by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler explains how to navigate difficult conversations and keep hard discussions productive. Suggestions include showing empathy without succumbing to emotion and agreeing to a shared purpose.

Popular business management books include:

— “The First-Time Manager.”

— “Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success.”

— “The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done.”

— “Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.”

— “Thinking, Fast and Slow.”

— “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

“Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High.”

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