The best books on leadership during a transition

Why am I passionate about this?

As I moved up in leadership, I found I was not prepared to manage people during uncertain and difficult times. Transitions bring about the worst in people. They get fearful and that causes bad behavior by triggering defense mechanisms. The books I listed are a progression of books that helped me to understand how transitions and change affect people and gave me a framework to continue to learn and increase my leadership skills. I then decided to write about new insights I gained in leadership to help others and have published two books and am writing articles on Medium.


I wrote...

The E Suite: Empathetic Leadership for the Next Generation of Executives

By Tina Kuhn, Neal Frick,

Book cover of The E Suite: Empathetic Leadership for the Next Generation of Executives

What is my book about?

Empathy is a critical executive leadership tool driving significant business results. This book is the definitive guide for understanding how to use empathy in the workplace and build high-performance organizations. With the growing awareness in business of the importance of motivating and inspiring people, empathy remains the most integral leadership skill of the 21st century.

This book teaches managers and business leaders how to apply empathy successfully and grow businesses in ways that support all stakeholders. Leaders who apply these lessons find improvements in productivity, stronger relationships with clients and colleagues, a thriving and diverse corporate culture, and significant business results.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change

Tina Kuhn Why did I love this book?

Managing Transitions impacted me significantly early in my leadership career. I read the book after I floundered leading a small transition. This book gave me a framework for managing the human side of transitions. I learned step-by-step strategies for minimizing disruptions caused by workplace transitions. I believe the ability to lead during a transition is a critical leadership skill.

By William Bridges, Susan Bridges,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Managing Transitions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The business world is constantly transforming. When restructures, mergers, bankruptcies, and layoffs hit the workplace, employees and managers naturally find the resulting situational shifts to be challenging. But the psychological transitions that accompany them are even more stressful. Organizational transitions affect people it is always people, rather than a company, who have to embrace a new situation and carry out the corresponding change.As veteran business consultant William Bridges explains, transition is successful when employees have a purpose, a plan, and a part to play. This indispensable guide is now updated to reflect the challenges of today's ever-changing, always-on, and globally…


Book cover of Just Be Honest: Authentic Communication Strategies That Get Results and Last a Lifetime

Tina Kuhn Why did I love this book?

Just Be Honest is a great book on communication strategies. One part of this book that has always stuck with me is what Steven Gaffney calls Notice vs. Imagine. Steven Gaffney estimates that at least 50% of what we imagine about others is inaccurate. For example, upon exiting a meeting at work, 50% of each person’s thoughts, opinions, and assumptions from the meeting are likely to be wrong. The worse part about this is that each person may well think he or she is 100 percent right. I learned a lot about hidden assumptions and communication strategies from this book.

By Steven Gaffney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Just Be Honest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Just Be Honest, you will learn that honesty is not only the best policy; it's the easiest and most effective way to communicate. You'll learn how to be honest with others and how to get them to be honest with you. You will learn how to use honesty as a tool to get immediate and dramatic results with anyone regardless of their backgrounds, needs, personality or personal agenda. You will learn how to eliminate communication breakdowns and personality conflicts, prevent problems before they occur and get the bottom-line results you desire--quickly and painlessly. You will learn why the two…


Book cover of The Change Monster: The Human Forces that Fuel or Foil Corporate Transformation and Change

Tina Kuhn Why did I love this book?

I believe that good leadership is all about being able to manage change and transformation. This book added to my knowledge on managing change. It helped me to understand empathy and learn to understand and master the emotions of those who stand in the way of change. Ms. Duck goes through each step of a workplace transformation and describes strategies to successfully navigate through the process.

By Jeanie Daniel Duck,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Powerful Look at Corporate Change and Why Mergers, Reorganizations, and Transformations Succeed or Fail

“[One of the] best business books of 2001 . . . [a] useful and intelligent tool for coping with the inevitable metamorphoses of business (and life).” —Miami Herald

“Provocative imagery . . . useful questions for managers to ask themselves.” —Harvard Business Review

“The Change Monster not only talks intelligently about the social dynamics and emotions of people [in change efforts], it does so with wisdom, insight, and practicality.”—Daniel Leemon, executive vice president and chief strategy officer, Charles Schwab Corporation

“A practitioner’s primer on revitalization…


Book cover of The Challenge Culture: Why the Most Successful Organizations Run on Pushback

Tina Kuhn Why did I love this book?

Nigel Travis, chairman of Dunkin’ Brands, discusses why the most effective leaders have people around them with a diversity of thoughts, opinions, and approaches. Travis believes the best way for organizations to succeed in today’s environment is to embrace challenges and encourage pushback. He maintains that everyone in an organization must be able to question the status quo, to talk in a civil way about difficult issues, and to debate strategies and tactics without fear of reprisal.

I love the practice of what he calls “coffee chats,” to open his thought aperture. The attendees were able to ask him any questions within the bounds of civility. As he said, “The purpose of the coffee chat is to provide an open and safe forum for people to ask questions, share information, articulate ideas, express opinions, and surface disagreements.” 

By Nigel Travis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The Challenge Culture is a must-read for employers and employees alike, and promises to get ideas for long-term success percolating.' - Robert Kraft, chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group

'Nigel's career, vision and humanity are very refreshing' - Claude Littner, former Chief Executive of Tottenham Hotspur and author of Single-Minded: My Life in Business

Challenge is essential for survival and sustained success in today's volatile world.

We live in an era when successful organisations can fail in a flash. But they can cope with change and thrive by creating a culture that supports positive pushback: questioning everything without disrespecting…


Book cover of Compassionate Leadership: How to Do Hard Things in a Human Way

Tina Kuhn Why did I love this book?

I like this book because of the real-life examples of big company CEOs balancing empathy, compassion, and caring with good business acumen. During uncertainty and change, it is harder but even more important to have empathy and compassion for employees. The authors show that leaders with empathy and compassion foster much higher levels of employee engagement, performance, and loyalty in their employees. Authors Hougaard and Carter also provide tools to help managers at all levels.

By Rasmus Hougaard, Jacqueline Carter, Marissa Afton , Moses Mohan

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Leadership is hard. How can you balance compassion for your people with effectiveness in getting the job done?

A global pandemic, economic volatility, natural disasters, civil and political unrest. From New York to Barcelona to Hong Kong, it can feel as if the world as we know it is coming apart. Through it all, our human spirit is being tested. Now more than ever, it's imperative for leaders to demonstrate compassion.

But in hard times like these, leaders need to make hard decisions-deliver negative feedback, make difficult choices that disappoint people, and in some cases lay people off. How do…


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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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Interested in organizational change, communication, and compassion?

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