The best less businessy, business books that can help managers

Why am I passionate about this?

In a world in which we are faced with increasing amounts of information that we have to parse (from social media, cable news channels, newspapers), it often feels hard to separate fact from fiction, and evidence-based research from junk science. In my own work, I have given a great deal of thought to how to get research-based evidence into the hands of practitioners (managers, employees) who can put it to good use. An important piece of the puzzle is helping practitioners understand the research evidence and how to apply it. The books on this list are great examples of authors who translate research into language that people can understand and use.


I wrote...

Human Resources for the Non-HR Manager

By Carol T. Kulik, Elissa L. Perry,

Book cover of Human Resources for the Non-HR Manager

What is my book about?

Day-to-day people management is increasingly the responsibility of front-line managers, not HR professionals. But managers are often poorly prepared for these responsibilities; they receive little training (and sometimes have little interest!) in HR. People management is never easy, and is particularly challenging in COVID-19’s "next normal" workplace, where managers must engage diverse employees across a range of working arrangements.

This book focuses on the special relationship that line managers have with their employees and describes managers’ responsibilities across the entire employee lifecycle – from front-end recruiting and hiring through to long-term retention. The content is grounded in rigorous academic research, but its conversational tone conveys basic principles without technical jargon. Chapters include features that help readers apply the material and address gray areas in people management.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know

Elissa L. Perry Why did I love this book?

One of the central themes of this book is that in order to successfully adapt and make good decisions in today’s rapidly changing world, the ability to rethink and unlearn may be more important than the ability to think and learn. 

The author’s appeal to readers to think like a scientist and to embrace being wrong resonates with my own beliefs about the value of an evidence-based approach to decision making. Grant uses vivid and compelling, real-life examples to illustrate research-based principles to great effect. 

I love the fact that he provides “actions for impact,” specific behaviors that each of us can employ to support rethinking and that provide a roadmap for how we can apply “best processes” to our daily lives. 

By Adam Grant,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Think Again as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times Bestseller

"THIS. This is the right book for right now. Yes, learning requires focus. But, unlearning and relearning requires much more-it requires choosing courage over comfort. In Think Again, Adam Grant weaves together research and storytelling to help us build the intellectual and emotional muscle we need to stay curious enough about the world to actually change it. I've never felt so hopeful about what I don't know."
-Brene Brown, Ph.D., #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dare to Lead

The bestselling author of Give and Take and Originals examines the critical art of rethinking:…


Book cover of Thinking, Fast and Slow

Elissa L. Perry Why did I love this book?

This book reminds me of why I majored in psychology as an undergraduate and why I was drawn to the program of research I ultimately developed in my own career (the role of stereotypes in workplace discrimination). 

Over the course of his research career, Daniel Kahneman has made the case in many and varied ways that human cognition is limited and can lead to biases in judgments and choices particularly in unpredictable situations (a hallmark of many organizations). Understanding these limitations is the first step toward understanding how to work with them and around them to improve decision making in the workplace.  

By Daniel Kahneman,

Why should I read it?

42 authors picked Thinking, Fast and Slow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The phenomenal international bestseller - 2 million copies sold - that will change the way you make decisions

'A lifetime's worth of wisdom' Steven D. Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics
'There have been many good books on human rationality and irrationality, but only one masterpiece. That masterpiece is Thinking, Fast and Slow' Financial Times

Why is there more chance we'll believe something if it's in a bold type face? Why are judges more likely to deny parole before lunch? Why do we assume a good-looking person will be more competent? The answer lies in the two ways we make choices: fast,…


Book cover of Outliers: The Story of Success

Elissa L. Perry Why did I love this book?

Gladwell is a master storyteller who is especially gifted at weaving an interesting narrative around what might otherwise be banal research evidence and facts. 

In this book, he challenges our thinking about what contributes to individuals’ success; our over emphasis on individual merit, innate talent, and ambition and under emphasis on the role of context, opportunities, and preparation. Gladwell uses engaging and relevant stories (about hockey players, geniuses, plane crashes, his own family) to make his points in powerful ways.  

By Malcolm Gladwell,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Outliers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the past decade, Malcolm Gladwell has written three books that have radically changed how we understand our world and ourselves: The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers. Regarded by many as the most gifted and influential author and journalist in America today, Gladwell has the rare ability to connect with audiences of tremendously varied interests. There are over 10 million copies of his books in print. Now, Gladwell's landmark investigations into the world around us are collected together for the first time. Beautifully repackaged and redesigned, with newly added illustrations throughout each book, COLLECTED is a perfect treasury of prose…


Book cover of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Elissa L. Perry Why did I love this book?

This book starts with an interesting premise, that the U.S. is a society that favors Extroverts over Introverts. 

The author cites academic research and data from her own experiences to demonstrate how we moved from a society that valued character over personality, to one that lauds the Extroversion Ideal…at school, at work, and other public venues. This book made me think hard about how my perceptions of others might be influenced by my assumptions about what Extroverts and Introverts bring to the table.

By Susan Cain,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Quiet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SUSAN CAIN'S NEW BOOK, BITTERSWEET, IS AVAILABLE TO PRE-ORDER NOW

A SUNDAY TIMES AND NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, THIS BOOK WILL CHANGE HOW YOU SEE INTROVERTS - AND YOURSELF - FOREVER.

Our lives are driven by a fact that most of us can't name and don't understand. It defines who our friends and lovers are, which careers we choose, and whether we blush when we're embarrassed.

That fact is whether we're an introvert or an extrovert.

The most fundamental dimension of personality, at least a third of us are introverts, and yet shyness, sensitivity and seriousness are often seen as…


Book cover of Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.

Elissa L. Perry Why did I love this book?

There are many books on effective leadership. Brown speaks to engaging the hearts and minds of leaders including skills like staying curious, having courage, empathy, and making connections. 

I appreciated that the author’s advice is based on comprehensive data she and her team collected across a number of organizational contexts. She suggests that effective leadership is teachable, observable, and measurable and abstracts from her research findings concrete and actionable steps that leaders can take to be more effective leaders. She also demonstrates how she implements her findings in her own company and with some of the companies she consults with. 

As I read this book, I often found myself stopping to think about how her principles applied to how I show up as a leader, parent, and spouse.

By Brené Brown,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Dare to Lead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Brené Brown has taught us what it means to dare greatly, rise strong, and brave the wilderness. Now, based on new research conducted with leaders, change makers, and culture shifters, she’s showing us how to put those ideas into practice so we can step up and lead.

Don’t miss the five-part HBO Max docuseries Brené Brown: Atlas of the Heart!

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY BLOOMBERG

Leadership is not about titles, status, and wielding power. A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for recognizing the potential in people and…


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Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

By Jim Brown,

Book cover of Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

Jim Brown Author Of Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent my entire professional life quietly patrolling the frontiers of understanding human consciousness. I was an early adopter in the burgeoning field of biofeedback, then neurofeedback and neuroscience, plus theory and practices of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, plus steeping myself in systems theory as a context for all these other fields of focus. I hold a MS in psychology from San Francisco State University and a PhD from Saybrook Institute. I live in Mount Shasta CA with Molly, my life partner for over 60 years. We have two sons and two grandchildren.

Jim's book list on brain, mind, and consciousness

What is my book about?

In this thoroughly researched and exquisitely crafted treatise, Jim Brown synthesizes the newest understandings in neuroscience, developmental psychology, and dynamical systems theory for educators and others committed to nurturing human development.

He explains complex concepts in down-to-earth terms, suggesting how these understandings can transform education to engender optimal learning and intelligence. He explores the nature of consciousness, intelligence, and mind.

Brown then offers a model of optimal human learning through lifelong brain development within a supportive culture--drawing on the work of Piaget, Erickson, Maslow, Kohlberg, and Steiner--and how that work is being vastly expanded by neuroscience and dynamical systems thinking.

Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

By Jim Brown,

What is this book about?

In this thoroughly-researched and exquisitely crafted treatise, Jim Brown synthesizes the newest understandings in neuroscience, developmental psychology, and dynamical systems theory for educators and others committed to nurturing human development. He explains complex concepts in down-to-earth terms, suggesting how these understandings can transform education to truly engender optimal learning and intelligence. He explores the nature of consciousness, intelligence, and mind. Brown then offers a model of optimal human learning through life-long brain development within a supportive culture--drawing on the work of Piaget, Erickson, Maslow, Kohlberg, and Steiner--and how that work is being vastly expanded by neuroscience and dynamical systems thinking.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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