The best books for practical, hands-on business leadership

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm the Founder and CEO of Intertech, an IT firm I started over 30 years ago. I've written three books and more than 100 articles on business, leadership, and technology. Intertech has won over 50 awards for growth, workplace best practices, and employee engagement including being named one of the Best 30 Employers in Tech by Fortune Magazine and one of the Top 10 Consulting firms in America by Consulting Magazine.  

I wrote...

The 100: Building Blocks for Business Leadership

By Tom Salonek,

Book cover of The 100: Building Blocks for Business Leadership

What is my book about?

The 100 provides one hundred practical, actionable ways to lead a business or team. The topics include setting, achieving, and aligning personal goals with business goals, understanding and implementing systems to drive employee engagement, how-tos on hiring and leading others, how to define strategies and business goals and back them up with systems to make them a reality, and effectively leading others.

In addition, readers have access to over 30 downloadable online resources—checklists, worksheets, templates, and more—to help implement the book’s ideas.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business

Tom Salonek Why did I love this book?

My book has been compared to Traction because Traction also delivers a practical blueprint on how to run a business. 

From strategic planning to meeting cadences to how to approach people and their roles in a business, Traction demystifies how to be a leader and create a well-run organization. The Traction method to running an organization, what the author defines as the Entrepreneurial Operating System, or EOS, is used by 1,000’s of organizations worldwide.

By Gino Wickman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Do you have a grip on your business, or does your business have a grip on you? All entrepreneurs and business leaders face similar frustrations--personnel conflict, profit woes, and inadequate growth. Decisions never seem to get made, or, once made, fail to be properly implemented. But there is a solution. It's not complicated or theoretical.The Entrepreneurial Operating System(R) is a practical method for achieving the business success you have always envisioned. More than 2,000 companies have discovered what EOS can do. In Traction, you'll learn the secrets of strengthening the six key components of your business. You'll discover simple yet…

Book cover of Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It...and Why the Rest Don't

Tom Salonek Why did I love this book?

I learned from Verne firsthand at two separate multi-year courses at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that were held for high-growth entrepreneurs.

In Scaling Up, he lays out what needs to be done at different stages/sizes of an organization to move to the next level. Like the other books I've recommended, he provides candid advice and practical ways to implement the ideas outlined in the book.

By Verne Harnish,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Scaling Up as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the International Book Awards for General Business

Winner of the Readers' Favorite International Book Award for Non-Fiction Business

It’s been over a decade since Verne Harnish’s best-selling book Mastering the Rockefeller Habits was first released. Scaling Up (Rockefeller Habits 2.0) is the first major revision of this business classic which details practical tools and techniques for building an industry-dominating business. This book is written so everyone — from frontline employees to senior executives — can get aligned in contributing to the growth of a firm. Scaling Up focuses on the four major decision areas every company must get…

Book cover of First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently

Tom Salonek Why did I love this book?

In First, Break All the Rules, Buckingham shares a lot of human psychology but more than that, it outlines how we as managers should lead our teams.

For example, golfer Tiger Woods, was one of the best in the world at driving and putting yet in his mid-game he was ranked in the 60s. Guess what his coach had him focus on? Driving and putting. This book reminded me not to be in the human change business.

By Marcus Buckingham, Curt Coffman,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked First, Break All the Rules as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gallup presents the remarkable findings of its revolutionary study of more than 80,000 managers in First, Break All the Rules, revealing what the world's greatest managers do differently. With vital performance and career lessons and ideas for how to apply them, it is a must-read for managers at every level.

Included with this re-release of First, Break All the Rules: updated meta-analytic research and access to the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment, which reveals people's top themes of talent, and to Gallup's Q12 employee engagement survey, the most effective measure of employee engagement and its impact on business outcomes.

What separates the…

Book cover of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Tom Salonek Why did I love this book?

In addition to the book, I’ve seen Pink deliver a talk at a conference on how we are wired as humans.

Similar to First, Break All the Rules, he shares some fascinating psychological studies and then goes on to outline how to use this knowledge to motivate and manage our teams.

By Daniel H. Pink,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestseller that gives readers a paradigm-shattering new way to think about motivation from the author of When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

Most people believe that the best way to motivate is with rewards like money—the carrot-and-stick approach. That's a mistake, says Daniel H. Pink (author of To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Motivating Others). In this provocative and persuasive new book, he asserts that the secret to high performance and satisfaction-at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things,…

Book cover of What Happy People Know: How the New Science of Happiness Can Change Your Life for the Better

Tom Salonek Why did I love this book?

Do you know of any effective leaders who are chronically unhappy? I don’t, which is why I’m rounding out my recommendations with a non-leadership book.

I give this book to anyone I’ve mentored over the years. This is a book I reread yearly. It clearly lays out what’s needed to have a fulfilling life and the qualities that all happy people have in common.

By Cameron Stauth, Dan Baker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What Happy People Know as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How to live a happy life--made so simple and doable that you believe it's actually achievable.

Dr. Dan Baker, director of the Life Enhancement Program at Canyon Ranch, has devoted his life to teaching people how to be happy. And apparently, most of us could use a little tutoring. Research has shown that the root of unhappiness--fear--lies in the oldest, reptilian part of our brains, and negative reactions are often dictated by primal instincts. We're literally "hardwired for hard times." In What Happy People Know, Dr. Baker uses evidence from the new science of happiness to show us how we…

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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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