The best books for getting out of your comfort zone

Why am I passionate about this?

I am passionate about helping people have the kinds of opportunities they want to have in their careers. I coach, teach, speak and write on how to do exactly that. The secret – it almost always involves getting out of your comfort zone, doing something that is a bit scary to you and that shakes your confidence a bit. However, you never want to be sitting alone trying to achieve something all by yourself. It takes a village to succeed. The art comes in knowing how to ask, getting over your fear of being vulnerable, building trust, knowing how to persuade each person you need, and much more. This is my life’s work. 


I wrote...

You Can't Know It All: Leading in the Age of Deep Expertise

By Wanda T. Wallace,

Book cover of You Can't Know It All: Leading in the Age of Deep Expertise

What is my book about?

We expect our leaders to know more than we do. We expect them to be credible, have vision, make decisions and get results. Sometimes the leader does know more, many times the leader needs to harness the power of the team’s knowledge and build credibility in other ways than through expertise.  

So, how do you lead when you are not the (only) expert? Clarify three questions: 1) How are you adding value? 2) What work you are doing and how do you know your team is doing the right work? 3) How are you influencing and building trust if it’s not with facts? The book is a guide on how to get out of your comfort zone and lead outside of your expertise. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Happier Hour: How to Beat Distraction, Expand Your Time, and Focus on What Matters Most

Wanda T. Wallace Why did I love this book?

This book inspired me personally and it has changed how I coach people to think about managing their stress and building their resilience. Especially as you step out of your comfort zone and lead in a new way, in a new area, stress will be high. Cassie’s research clearly shows that what we need to manage stress, to feel good about our lives as a whole, and to be our best self as a leader isn’t as hard as you think. The secret is 2 hours of time each day doing things you enjoy – work included.  

By Cassie Holmes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Happier Hour as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Learn how to reframe your time around life’s happiest moments to build days that aren’t just full but fulfilling with this “joyful guide” (Eve Rodsky, New York Times bestselling author) that is the antidote to overscheduling.

Our most precious resource isn’t money. It’s time. We are allotted just twenty-four hours a day, and we live in a culture that keeps us feeling “time poor.” Since we can’t add more hours to the day, how can we experience our lives as richer?

Based on her wildly popular MBA class at UCLA, Professor Cassie Holmes demonstrates how to immediately improve our lives…


Book cover of Developing Your Conflict Competence: A Hands-On Guide for Leaders, Managers, Facilitators, and Teams

Wanda T. Wallace Why did I love this book?

To do more and to lead a team of experts, conflict is necessary to get a great outcome. Some people are comfortable with conflict, some are not. Either way, as a leader, you need a toolkit on what to do and not to do to de-escalate tension and develop healthy debate. This book is the best toolkit I know. 

By Craig E. Runde, Tim A. Flanagan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Developing Your Conflict Competence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A practical resource, this book combines tips, checklists, exercises, and stories to outline concrete processes that improve the way leaders, managers, and anyone within an organization responds to conflict. Beginning with a series of questions and self-diagnostics, the authors show you how to: maintain emotional balance in the face of conflict; implement constructive communications techniques; help others deal with conflicts that are causing organization problems; establish norms for handling conflict; use specific approaches for addressing conflict more effectively. "A must-have guidebook for the new age of global business. This book shows every leader how to turn feelings of fear into…


Book cover of Master Mentors: 30 Transformative Insights from Our Greatest Minds

Wanda T. Wallace Why did I love this book?

This book gives exactly the lift you need to believe you can do more. There are inspiring, short stories of things leaders have done and the impact it left on the author. I like the personal take on each chapter. It’s very readable and very relatable. Read a chapter, share a chapter with your team, talk about what you liked with others. It’s a great way to get a quick uplift without fretting over not finishing the book.  

By Scott Jeffrey Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Master Mentors as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For busy professionals and lifelong learners seeking practical strategies for reaching new heights, Master Mentors distills 30 essential learnings from Seth Godin, Susan Cain, Trent Shelton, General Stanley McChrystal, and other top business minds and thought leaders of our time.

Mining the best and brightest revelations from FranklinCovey's global podcast, On Leadership with Scott Miller, Scott personally introduces you to 30 Master Mentors, featuring the single most transformative insight from each of them.

Depending on where you are in your journey, Master Mentors will:

Challenge your current mindset and beliefs, leading to what could be the most important career and…


Book cover of Ask More: The Power of Questions to Open Doors, Uncover Solutions, and Spark Change

Wanda T. Wallace Why did I love this book?

I believe leaders need to ask better questions. Questions are the secret to delegating effectively, to coaching and mentoring, to holding people accountable, to generating ideas, and to creating psychological safety even. Every leader needs a set of go-to questions for different purposes. Frank Sesno is a well-known CNN reporter who has written the ultimate guide to asking questions. The key message: frame the question for what you want to know. Great stories and a fun read.  

By Frank Sesno,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ask More as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What hidden skill links successful people in all walks of life--across cultures, industries, generations . . . all of time? The answer is surprisingly simple: they know how to ask the right questions at the right time. Questions help us break down barriers, discover secrets, solve puzzles, and imagine new ways of doing things. The right question can provide for us not only the answer we need right then but also the ones we'll need tomorrow. Emmy award-winning journalist and media expert Frank Sesno wants to teach you how to question others in a methodical, intentional way so that you…


Book cover of The Art of Woo: Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas

Wanda T. Wallace Why did I love this book?

Everyone wants to have more influence, be more persuasive, sell their ideas better and have greater impact. Richard Shell is one of the smartest people I have ever met on how influence works. I think I know a good bit about the topic and I learn something every time I talk with him. This is my favorite among his many books on influence – there are many and you cannot go wrong with any of them.  

By G. Richard Shell, Mario Moussa,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Art of Woo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

You may need The Art of War to defeat your enemies, but if you prefer to win them over, read The Art of Woo

G. Richard Shell and Mario Moussa know what it takes to drive new ideas through complex organizations. They have advised thousands of executives from companies such as Google, Microsoft, and General Electric to organizations like the World Bank and even the FBI's hostage rescue training program. In The Art of Woo, they present their systematic, four- step process for winning over even the toughest bosses and most skeptical colleagues. Beginning with two powerful self-assessments to help…


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The Managing People Practice Manual

By Neil Thompson,

Book cover of The Managing People Practice Manual

Neil Thompson Author Of The Managing People Practice Manual

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Writer Educator Adviser

Neil's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

This manual addresses the need to ensure that people are at the centre of the organisation. There has never been a timelier reminder of the need to ensure that leading, supporting and developing staff are critical aspects of creating the right organisational culture to grow and develop. Written with sensitivity, it brings together essential learning and underpinning theoretical knowledge and frameworks to promote effective practice.

This is an essential handbook for managers and leaders who want to develop the full potential of their people. It not only covers the fundamental issues of human resource management, but also highlights important topics that organisations find difficult to address, such as empowerment, stress management, mental health, equality, diversity, inclusion, and the promotion of well-being at work.

The Managing People Practice Manual

By Neil Thompson,

What is this book about?

It is refreshing to come across an HR book that bridges the gap perfectly between the academic theory and the practicality of ‘how to do it'. Dr Neil Thompson takes us on a humanistic journey that genuinely captures the human dimension of people management. This is an extremely helpful manual full of important and practical information about promoting well-being to achieve the best outcome for various everyday people management issues. The easy-to-understand inclusive language of this book calls to anyone interested in people management, meaning this is a perfect book for students, HR leaders, and practitioners. I know I will…


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