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19 Best Books To Read On Management Skills

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Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire team-mates and customers.

– Robin S. Sharma

Managers might seem like they have the easiest job in the world, but the truth is far from that. Being a manager is about leading people, controlling the growth of your team and being compassionate.

We reached out to industry leaders to get their recommendations for the best books to read to further develop your management skills.

#1 Shift Ahead by Allen Adamson and Joel Steckel

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Shift Ahead provides practical guidance on pulling off the feat of leaping forward while holding firm to a company’s reputation, credibility, and trustworthiness. Based on extensive research and decades of experience working with iconic brands, the authors present a simple framework for maintaining the balance and flexibility essential to surviving and thriving in a marketplace where change is the only constant.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributors: Allen Adamson from Shift Ahead Book

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#2 Managing to Make a Difference by Larry Sternberg and Kim Turnage

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This book, aimed at managers, provides much-needed tools and techniques for building a high-performing team without letting other managerial duties suffer. This book is based on solid research, as well as decades of management experience. It is intended to be a handbook for managers and offers a roadmap to engagement, talent development and excellence in management. While a CEO, I gain a great deal of insight from two of Talent Plus' senior leaders, Larry and Kim, and the real-life stories they share. The techniques they offer in their book will help managers (potentially future CEOs) achieve organizational goals and will empower their employees to achieve their own.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributors: Kimberly Rath from Talent Plus, Inc.

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#3 First, Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham

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There is a BIG difference between a good manager and a GREAT manager -- and we know one thing for sure, people don't leave jobs, they leave managers. Hence, GREAT management in your company is your main key to success. This book is based on Gallup research of over 80,000 managers and really breaks down what the greatest managers do differently.

Bonus - the 12 critical questions for employee engagement that start off the book are what I live by every day to improve as a great manager. If my team can answer yes to most of these questions every day my company's effectiveness goes through the roof and when they can't my employee retention hits rock bottom.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributors: Nikki Henry from Ladies Leading Ladies 

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#4 Getting Things Done by David Allen

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The strategy worked yesterday that might not work today in the business world. In this book, management consultant David Allen explains how replacing conventional hard-working methods with innovative stress-free methods can yield the most positive results for any business. Allen says that our productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax and depending on this tested theory, he shows how to unleash our true potential with real stress-free techniques.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributors: Andrei Vasilescu from DontPayFull

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#5 Communicate Like a Leader by Dianna Booher

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It covers the 6 fundamental skills leader-managers need, along with the 34 most important principles in each skill area:

  • Strategic Leadership (developing people, coaching, motivating, and so forth)
  • Strategic Speaking
  • Strategic Conversations
  • Strategic Negotiations
  • Strategic Writing
  • Strategic Meetings

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributors: Dianna Booher from Booher Research

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#6 CEO Material by D. A. Benton

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To climb the ranks and become CEO you need specialists skills but at the top, you need generalist skills. This book puts in place the generalist skills you need to develop all along the climb so that you get to the top faster, and last there longer.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributors: Debra Benton from CEOwhisperer

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#7 Creativity, Inc by Edwin Catmull and Amy Wallace

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Part inside story behind Pixar Animation and part leadership lessons about leading a small startup into a production powerhouse, Creativity, Inc. is a fascinating look inside the head of Ed Catmull, the man who led Pixar through its transformation and full of his leadership strategy to lead a diverse group of creative people to be the best they can be.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributors: Kyle Wierks from Kyle Wierks Consulting

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#8 Essentialism by Greg McKeown

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Anyone can say yes, but it takes extreme discipline to say no. One of the keys to success in management is ruthless prioritization, and Essentialism is all about how to prioritize your life (both personal and at work) to focus on what is essential. The freedom you gain from this prioritization will change your life, and exponentially improve your work.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributors: Kyle Wierks from Kyle Wierks Consulting

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#9 The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick M. Lencioni

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The book tells the story of a new executive at a startup company and her journey to save the company's team before it's too late. The novel goes through the dysfunctions of a team, lapses in communication, and trust issues, but it also goes through the ways executives can deal with these dilemmas and rebuild a productive, stronger team.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributors: Keri Lindenmuth from KDG

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#10 The Unbossy Boss by Gary Magenta

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What I like about it that it's grounded in practical approaches that someone can use to become a better overall manager by focusing on the 12 powerful questions that managers need to ASK (Align, Seek and Kickstart). It guides managers away from old methods of managing - yelling and telling - to a better approach that fosters high levels of engagement and motivation. It also includes at the end of each chapter a worksheet that you can use to help apply the knowledge and approaches being discussed.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributors: Aleassa Schambers from Root Inc. 

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#11 Creating Magic by Lee Cockerell

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I model many of my own leadership techniques around things taught by the Walt Disney Company to its leaders. Lee Cockerell, Former Executive Vice President of Operations at Walt Disney World Resort, offers a wealth of great leadership and management advice in his book Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies From a Life at Disney.

The book chronicles Cockerell’s career before and during his time at Disney, and the real-life anecdotes he incorporates into the book serve as valuable lessons for both experienced and aspiring leaders.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributors: Anthony Gaenzle from SE Healthcare

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#12 9 Dimensions of Conscious Success by David Nielson

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9 Dimensions of Conscious Success is unique from other self-awareness books in that it provides a practical process model that can be followed for achieving success. The model consists of 3 foundational elements - purpose, self-awareness, and social-awareness - and identifies the six differentiators that set individuals apart from others - authenticity, work ethic & personal responsibility, listening, articulation, humor, and gratitude. This book is highly recommended for managers that work with millennials or millennials that want to have a positive influence on their own success.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributors: David Nielson from 9 Dimensions of Conscious Success

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#13 Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility by Patty McCord

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This is a great book because it focuses on building a corporate culture of honesty and success int eh workplace. While there is no secret formula or set of rules, a relentless commitment to a strong culture will lead to greater success in an organization. This is a strong lesson for management, and a great book to delve into ideas around freedom and responsibility for team members within an organization.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributors: Deborah Sweeney from MyCorporation

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#14 Build by Donnie Shelton

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Build is written specifically for businesses owners who want to create a winning team of employees who get the job done right every time. Using systems that have been thoroughly tested and proven by service companies in the real world, *Build* gets you started by asking you tough questions and focusing on the truly important part of your business - your people. If you are looking to figure out the flaws in your business and how to improve today, this should be on your bookshelf.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributors: Michaeline Stith from Coalmarch Productions

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#15 My Indecision is Final by Jake Eberts and Terry Knots

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Jake's background was in finance, and we wound up running one of the most successful and influential films studios of the later 20th Century. Their films include Ghandi, Chariots of Fire, The Mission, and The Killing Fields. The reason it is my favorite management book is that Jake comes into the business as an outsider and bring a business/financial perspective to an industry not known for either discipline, and he is unfailingly humble and open and honest about his and Goldcrest's successes and failures.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributors: Brian Rafferty from Taylor Rafferty LLC 

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#16 10 Skills for Effective Business Communication

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It provides effective strategies and practical examples for how to become a better communicator.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributors: Jessica Higgins from JessicaHiggins

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#17 The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker

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In this book, the legendary management guru explains how to manage time, what is presently best for the business, where and when to converge most efforts and skills for best outputs, how to prioritize tasks and how to synchronize the system by taking right decisions at right times to produce the best possible results for the business. If business managers want to increase their capability to “get the right things done”, this book is the best teacher for them.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributors: Andrei Vasilescu from DontPayFull

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#18 The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard & Spencer Johnson

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This book explains the three practical secrets – One-minute goals, One-minute praisings, and one-minute reprimands. Through these explanations, it has taught the managers the techniques to increase productivity and profitability for the business and employees. Moreover, in this book, several simple tactics are explained with the help of behavioral science which can produce amazing effects for best results when applied and hence this book is a bestseller for years.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributors: Andrei Vasilescu from DontPayFull

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#19 The Essential Drucker by Peter Drucker

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Considered the 'father of modern management' by thousands of management experts throughout the world, business philosopher and widely-published author Peter F. Drucker analyzed the principles and practices of management for more than 60 years. While writing more than 25 books on the subject, Drucker discussed how the practices embodied in modern management impacted individuals, organizations, and society at large. * The Essential Drucker* condenses a great many of his most important ideas into a single volume where Drucker lays out the management principles that today's managers can utilize in dealing with the challenges and opportunities that they face in our modern global business environment.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributors: Timothy G. Wiedman from Doane University

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