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December 07, 2016 | 5 min read
Manager’s Reading List: 5 Must-Read Books For Emerging Leaders


Becoming a manager can be a daunting step to take in your career.  When you are managing a team, you are not only responsible for the success of the team as a whole, but also every individual’s own success within the organization.  Throughout your career as a manager, you will always face challenges where you may not be sure that you’re taking the right course of action.  At the end of the day, knowing the right thing to say or the proper time to step in to create a productive and happy team is no easy task.

The art of management, in nature, is highly connected to simply understanding human behavior, and it has been a popular subject for researchers over the years to tackle.  While there is no one right way to manage employees, it is important to understand the different ways in which managers are succeeding in order to make the best choice for you and your team.  Among the several best-sellers in this genre of literature, here are five of the most popular management books that can assist you in building a more effective team:

The New One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

“The best minute I spend is the one I invest in people.”

This 1982 classic is one of the most popular books for business leaders, and in 2015, the book was updated with new tactics that fit the ever-changing needs of today’s managers.  Authors Blanchard and Johnson took their learnings from studies in medicine and behavioral sciences and applied it to this parable of a young man searching all over the world for a great manager.

A lot can be said about management tactics and how to get results, but this story makes the argument that it’s not as complicated as you might think.  Throughout the book, you are introduced to simple, one-minute approaches to management that make a big difference in helping people succeed.  With this efficiency applied to your workplace relationships, you can spend less time getting stronger results.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

“If you want to gather honey, don’t kick the beehive.”

Originally written in 1936, author Dale Carnegie’s tactics are proof that management relies more on the nature of human behavior and less on any social or technological changes in our society.  Carnegie, a salesman, knew that if he wasn’t likeable, he wouldn’t be able to influence someone into making a purchase.

While Carnegie presents many ideas that can help someone more effectively influence others, the main point he drives through each tactic is that to be interesting, you must be interested.  People can generally tell when someone cares for them, and your genuine and honest engagement in the life of someone else is what will get them to join your team.  Once this is accomplished, only then can you focus on achieving your goals together.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change  by Stephen R. Covey

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

In this popular classic, author Stephen R. Covey argues that effective management starts from within.  While you can gather tactics and advice to solve your problems, these tend to only be short-term solutions, while long-term issues remain unsolved.  By looking inward at your own behavior, you can adjust your attitude to better handle the challenges that come not just from a management role, but all other aspects of your life.

Covey suggests that adjusting your own habits to affect change rather than blaming outside circumstances is the starting point in becoming a more effective leader.  By first being proactive in your own life, you can then place more focus on other people and their needs.  7 Habits places emphasis on effective listening, advocating that you should seek first to understand, then to be understood.  By learning more about each member of your team, you can better leverage individual differences to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts—a truly effective team.

Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

“Visionary leaders help people to see how their work fits into the big picture, lending people a clear sense not just that what they do matters, but also why.”

‘Emotional Intelligence’ was a term coined in 1990, but author Daniel Goleman popularized the concept with his published works in 1995.  Originally a science writer for The New York Times, Goleman specialized in brain and behavior research, arguing that cognitive intelligence, or IQ, was less important to the success of a business than emotional intelligence.

This attribute boils down to both personal competence and social competence; in other words, you need to be able to care for yourself as well as be keenly aware of how to best interact with those around you.  In the workplace, the leader’s emotions are contagious, and their energy resonates with employees, whether it’s good or bad.  By priming that good feeling in those you lead, you have accomplished one of the most fundamental tasks of being a manager.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t by Jim Collins

“Greatness is not a function of circumstance.  Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline.”

Published in 2001, Good to Great fundamentally challenges mediocrity and dissects how it is that a company moves above and beyond what is considered ‘just good.’  Author Jim Collins, a management consultant, analyzed data from a small fraction of organizations identified as ‘great’ through a series of factors and variables.  Through this research, Collins was able to identify the qualities that lead a business to become extraordinary.

Good to Great shows that those companies can achieve this with three strategic choices: disciplined people, thought, and actions.  Collins argues that your team is your greatest asset, and no organization can achieve greatness without the right people.   Following this, smart and careful actions must be taken that put an organization in the right direction, which are explored in great detail.

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