The best management books

21 authors have picked their favorite books about management and why they recommend each book.

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The Agility Factor

By Christopher G. Worley, Edward E. Lawler, Thomas D. Williams

Book cover of The Agility Factor: Building Adaptable Organizations for Superior Performance

Ed Lawler has a lifetime of melding academic theory and organization practice. In this research based book, he and his colleagues not only recognize that agility matters, but they do research to validate processes that create organization agility. Agility is one of the emerging capabilities for a successful organization in today’s changing world. Anything El Lawler works is well thought out, researched, and usable.


Who am I?

Dave Ulrich is the Rensis Likert Professor at the Ross School of Business and a partner at the RBL Group, a consulting firm focused on helping organizations and leaders deliver value. He has published over 200 articles and book chapters and over 30 books. The organizations where we live, work, play, and worship affect every part of our lives. Organizations turn individual competencies into collective capabilities, isolated events into sustained patterns, and personal values into collective values. In short, organizations matter in our lives. By adapting their answer to “what is an organization,” leaders, employees, customers, and investors will be better able to improve their organization's experiences.


I co-authored...

Reinventing the Organization: How Companies Can Deliver Radically Greater Value in Fast-Changing Markets

By Arthur Yeung, Dave Ulrich,

Book cover of Reinventing the Organization: How Companies Can Deliver Radically Greater Value in Fast-Changing Markets

What is my book about?

In today’s changing world, your company needs to manage information, be agile, focus on customers, and discover innovation.  The new organization form (Market Oriented Ecosystem … MOE) draws on numerous models: agile, networked, holacracy, and remarkable cases including Tencent, Alibaba, Google, Facebook to distill 6 principles for creating an organization that delivers employee, strategy, customer, and financial results.  This work is a roadmap for the new organization journey.

No Rules Rules

By Reed Hastings, Erin Meyer,

Book cover of No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention

No one can question the incredible growth and success that Netflix has had over the last several years. As such, I was intrigued by what made the company so good at creating content and disrupting the distribution chains that had been a backbone of Hollywood for generations with the introduction and mainstreaming of streaming. Written by Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, I was fascinated to see how this small DVD distribution company blossomed into the behemoth power player that it has become. Beyond its relevance in Hollywood, this book really gave me great insight into how any successful corporation should operate. Their unique procedures for conducting business and think outside the box policies for running a large corporation are concepts that every CEO and business owner should absorb.


Who am I?

I am the author of seven published books about Hollywood. I’m also actively involved in the entertainment industry day to day. Presently, I am the owner of Management 101, a firm that guides the careers of actors and writers. I’m also a producer of feature films and television shows including the GLAAD award-winning feature film Geography Club, Sins of our Youth, and Nickelodeon’s Dance On Sunset. I have taught at the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California and have appeared as a guest on Entertainment Tonight, CNN, Fox News, and CBS.


I wrote...

Hollywood 101: The Film Industry

By Frederick Levy,

Book cover of Hollywood 101: The Film Industry

What is my book about?

Hollywood 101 is a guide for anyone wanting to break into the film business. I break down the various jobs in Hollywood, on set and off, and through a series of interviews with top industry professionals, give advice on getting started in various Hollywood careers. My book is used as a textbook in film classes throughout the country and it’s considered by many to be the definitive guide to launching a show business career. Did I mention it was also a two-time, Los Angeles Times bestseller?

It's Your Ship

By Michael Abrashoff,

Book cover of It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy

This is my favorite leadership book. The author, Mike Abrashoff, was just 36 when he was selected to be Commander of the USS Benfold, becoming the most junior commanding officer in the Pacific fleet. The challenges of this underachieving destroyer were staggering, with low morale and the highest turnover rate in the Navy. Yet 12 months later it was ranked #1 in performance -- using the same crew. How did Mike do it? By replacing command and control leadership with commitment and cohesion. By caring about his crew, yet holding a high bar or excellence. You’ll feel like part of Mike’s crew while reading this book, which is full of common-sense leadership lessons that any manager can apply immediately.


Who am I?

After a career as an HR and learning & development executive at PepsiCo, AOL, and Capital One, I founded Arneson Leadership Consulting to provide coaching, talent management, and leadership development solutions to corporations and non-profit organizations.  I have a passion for helping leaders develop to their full potential and believe all leaders have the capacity to learn and grow. But development doesn’t just magically happen – you have to be willing to work at it. Whether it’s taking a course, gathering 360 feedback, or reading a best-selling book, the best leaders know they must never stop learning.


I wrote...

What Your Boss Really Wants from You: 15 Insights to Improve Your Relationship

By Steve Arneson,

Book cover of What Your Boss Really Wants from You: 15 Insights to Improve Your Relationship

What is my book about?

The most important work relationship you have is with your boss; no one else has as much power to make or break your career. You need this relationship to be positive, but sometimes the boss can be difficult or hard to read. In this pragmatic and accessible guide, top executive coach Steve Arneson shows how to find the answer to fifteen essential questions that will help you understand your boss’s leadership style and motivation. Vivid real-world examples demonstrate Arneson’s advice in action and show clearly how this process can be used to gain a more meaningful, productive, and enjoyable work life. 

HR from the Outside In

By Dave Ulrich, Jon Younger, Wayne Brockbank, Mike Ulrich

Book cover of HR from the Outside In: Six Competencies for the Future of Human Resources

This book brought global survey data, case examples, and thought leadership together in recommending a new approach to HR that has since become a standard: driving the organizational capabilities the business needs to flourish competitively, and deliver superior value to customers. Six critical HR competencies based on research are described and best practices shared. The new model of HR proposed in this book has been broadly adopted.

Who am I?

The future of talent management is now. I’m a teacher, consultant, and board member who is deeply interested in the social and economic impact of the freelance revolution. Millions of people around the world are now working for themselves as independent professionals or “solopreneurs”. Millions more are taking on freelance assignments to augment their income or increase their expertise and experience. Technology makes it possible for professionals in many fields to work remotely and free themselves from the limitations of their local economy. These benefits organizations by offering greater access to talent and gives professionals greater access to opportunity. 

I wrote...

Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts

By Jon Younger, Norm Smallwood,

Book cover of Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts

What is my book about?

Companies are gaining advantage through a new capability -- strategic use of external experts -- made possible by technology and the globalization of talent. Leaders everywhere recognize that "lean," "agile," and "fast" strategies require new ways to access and leverage--without owning--key talent to fill critical gaps. As managers seek nontraditional sources of strategic talent and experiment with fast, flexible ways of engaging these experts, they need a new roadmap.

This book delivers that roadmap. It tells you how to assess, choose, attract, develop, support, and retain your external talent. Authored by thought leaders and bestselling authors in leadership and talent management who teach and consult globally, Agile Talent reveals how companies such as Apple, Uber, Airbnb, Google, IBM, and Bain Capital organize and manage new forms of talent in innovative ways. Supported by survey data and packed with tools and templates for applying these ideas, this book is the ultimate guide for winning the next war for talent.

Strategies for Change

By James Brian Quinn,

Book cover of Strategies for Change: Logical Incrementalism

Quinn’s book should be read by every organization and talent specialist. He reminds us through both data and case study that radical change requires a transformational mindset combined with what he calls strategic incrementalism. His book provides a rich mix of examples, tools, and methods for continuously improving the organization and workforce to meet current and likely future challenges. 

Who am I?

The future of talent management is now. I’m a teacher, consultant, and board member who is deeply interested in the social and economic impact of the freelance revolution. Millions of people around the world are now working for themselves as independent professionals or “solopreneurs”. Millions more are taking on freelance assignments to augment their income or increase their expertise and experience. Technology makes it possible for professionals in many fields to work remotely and free themselves from the limitations of their local economy. These benefits organizations by offering greater access to talent and gives professionals greater access to opportunity. 

I wrote...

Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts

By Jon Younger, Norm Smallwood,

Book cover of Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts

What is my book about?

Companies are gaining advantage through a new capability -- strategic use of external experts -- made possible by technology and the globalization of talent. Leaders everywhere recognize that "lean," "agile," and "fast" strategies require new ways to access and leverage--without owning--key talent to fill critical gaps. As managers seek nontraditional sources of strategic talent and experiment with fast, flexible ways of engaging these experts, they need a new roadmap.

This book delivers that roadmap. It tells you how to assess, choose, attract, develop, support, and retain your external talent. Authored by thought leaders and bestselling authors in leadership and talent management who teach and consult globally, Agile Talent reveals how companies such as Apple, Uber, Airbnb, Google, IBM, and Bain Capital organize and manage new forms of talent in innovative ways. Supported by survey data and packed with tools and templates for applying these ideas, this book is the ultimate guide for winning the next war for talent.

The Founder's Dilemmas

By Noam Wasserman,

Book cover of The Founder's Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup

This book is a practical and research-driven guide to making smart decisions from the earliest days of an enterprise, whether you’re structuring your partnership or figuring out how much capital to raise. Packed with interesting and memorable stories, this is a book about how doing things right from the beginning can be the difference between failure and success in an entrepreneurial venture.


Who am I?

I never thought I would be an entrepreneur. In fact, I was happy in corporate life. But when my job in corporate America blew up, I realized that I need to rethink my entire approach to building my career and my life. The result of these efforts is The 10% Entrepreneur. Over the past decade, I have integrated entrepreneurship into my life on a part-time basis, reaping meaningful financial and psychic rewards in the process. In the process, I have taught hundreds of thousands of others that entrepreneurship does not have to be an all-or-nothing proposition.


I wrote...

The 10% Entrepreneur: Live Your Startup Dream Without Quitting Your Day Job

By Patrick J. McGinnis,

Book cover of The 10% Entrepreneur: Live Your Startup Dream Without Quitting Your Day Job

What is my book about?

Becoming a full-time entrepreneur can look glamorous from the outside. Who doesn’t want to chase their dreams, be their own boss, and do what they love? But the truth is that entrepreneurship is often a slog, with no regular hours, no job security, and very little pay. What if there was a way to have the stability of a day job with the excitement of a startup? All of the benefits of entrepreneurship with none of the pitfalls?

In The 10% Entrepreneur, Patrick McGinnis shows you how, by investing just 10% of your time and resources, you can become an entrepreneur without losing a steady paycheck. McGinnis details a step-by-step plan that takes you from identifying your first entrepreneurial project to figuring out the smartest way to commit resources to it. He shows you how to select and engage in projects that will provide you with upside outside the office while making you better at your day job. 

Human Resource Champions

By Dave Ulrich,

Book cover of Human Resource Champions

In a recent survey of HR leaders, 80% mentioned that they were continuing to organize their HR department based on the “Ulrich” model. Is there a more impressive recommendation for the impact of this book, and Dave’s research and writing? In HR Champions, Ulrich points out the importance of three types of HR work: business partners, specialists, and shared services. In a recent HR Management article, that model was expanded to include a fourth category: project management. Technology is obviously a much bigger factor in HR work since 1996 when the book was first published. But, this oldie but goodie has aged extraordinarily well and continues to be relevant and insightful. If you are in HR or interested in talent management at scale, this book has to be on your list.


Who am I?

The future of talent management is now. I’m a teacher, consultant, and board member who is deeply interested in the social and economic impact of the freelance revolution. Millions of people around the world are now working for themselves as independent professionals or “solopreneurs”. Millions more are taking on freelance assignments to augment their income or increase their expertise and experience. Technology makes it possible for professionals in many fields to work remotely and free themselves from the limitations of their local economy. These benefits organizations by offering greater access to talent and gives professionals greater access to opportunity. 

I wrote...

Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts

By Jon Younger, Norm Smallwood,

Book cover of Agile Talent: How to Source and Manage Outside Experts

What is my book about?

Companies are gaining advantage through a new capability -- strategic use of external experts -- made possible by technology and the globalization of talent. Leaders everywhere recognize that "lean," "agile," and "fast" strategies require new ways to access and leverage--without owning--key talent to fill critical gaps. As managers seek nontraditional sources of strategic talent and experiment with fast, flexible ways of engaging these experts, they need a new roadmap.

This book delivers that roadmap. It tells you how to assess, choose, attract, develop, support, and retain your external talent. Authored by thought leaders and bestselling authors in leadership and talent management who teach and consult globally, Agile Talent reveals how companies such as Apple, Uber, Airbnb, Google, IBM, and Bain Capital organize and manage new forms of talent in innovative ways. Supported by survey data and packed with tools and templates for applying these ideas, this book is the ultimate guide for winning the next war for talent.

My Life in Leadership

By Frances Hesselbein,

Book cover of My Life in Leadership: The Journey and Lessons Learned Along the Way

Peter Drucker, the great 20th-century leadership thinker, called Frances “perhaps the finest leader I have ever known.” Although Frances led a non-profit for girls, the Girl Scouts USA, she influenced corporate giants along with public sector and military leaders around the world with her philosophy, her wisdom, and her clarity about mission and values. She was also a pioneer when it came to valuing diversity and living those values. She wrote many books, but My Life in Leadership is my favorite, telling the highly detailed story of how a young girl from Johnson PA developed into a force that would subtly influence how excellence in leadership is defined.


Who am I?

I have spent the last 32 years of my life working with women leaders and aspiring women leaders all over the world and helping organizations to create more inclusive cultures. As a result, I’ve been exposed to extraordinary leaders and to terrible leaders and have seen up close the impact they have on people’s lives. This has inspired me to write 7 books and thousands of articles exploring different aspects of the leader’s journey and to deliver leadership workshops in 32 countries. What do I love? Sharing the stories that inspire me.


I wrote...

How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job

By Sally Helgesen, Marshall Goldsmith,

Book cover of How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job

What is my book about?

How Women Rise is about the habits and behaviors most likely to get in the way of successful women as they seek to move to the next level and assume roles with more authority and scope. These are habits that often serve women well at the early or middle stages of their careers but can undermine them as they move into leadership roles. Habits include: Reluctance to Claim Your Achievements, Expecting Others to Notice and Value Your Contributions, Building Rather Than Leveraging Relationships, Putting Your Job Before Your Career, The Perfection Trap, The Disease to Please, and Ruminating.

Traction

By Gabriel Weinberg,

Book cover of Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth

There are many traction channels that we can try to leverage as founders and oftentimes it’s difficult to know which channel will work best. This book provides you with the framework to methodically discover and test different traction channels effectively and systematically grow your startup. If nothing else, this book is a great list of marketing approaches that you can use as a starting point for your growth efforts.

Who am I?

I’m a serial entrepreneur who’s built and sold several startups. I’ve been helping non-venture-backed startup founders since 2005 and now I run the first startup accelerator for bootstrappers, called TinySeed. I’ve invested in 57 startups, but I don’t believe the only way to start a SaaS company is to raise money. I host the most popular podcast for bootstrappers, called Startups for the Rest of Us. I also run the most well-known conference and online community for non-venture-track SaaS founders, called MicroConf.


I wrote...

Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup

By Rob Walling,

Book cover of Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup

What is my book about?

Start Small, Stay Small is a step-by-step guide to launching a self-funded startup. If you're a developer, this book is your blueprint to getting your startup off the ground with no outside investment.

This book intentionally avoids topics restricted to venture-backed startups such as: honing your investment pitch, securing funding, and figuring out how to use the piles of cash investors keep placing in your lap. There's nothing wrong with pursuing venture funding and attempting to grow fast like Amazon, Google, Twitter, and Facebook. It just so happened that most people are not in a place to do this.

Disciplined Entrepreneurship

By Bill Aulet,

Book cover of Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup

Bill Aulet is the managing director of the MIT Entrepreneurship Center. I was in his training program when I wrote Lean B2B. Disciplined Entrepreneurship is a great overview of the process of building a technology company in B2B. There’s a lot of great knowledge in this book including great advice on selecting a market and validating a business model.


Who am I?

I’m a 3-time B2B startup founder (Flagback, HireVoice, and Highlights). For my 2nd startup, HireVoice, we tried to use The Lean Startup methodology and struggled to get traction on the market. When we shut down the company, I knew I wanted to solve my own pain, and learn B2B. I spent the next 2 years speaking (and learning from) some of the most successful B2B founders in the world. This, eventually led to the publication of my book, Lean B2B. Since then, I’ve been at the forefront of B2B entrepreneurship. The Lean B2B methodology has now been used by thousands of entrepreneurs and innovators to help create successful businesses.


I wrote...

Lean B2B: Build Products Businesses Want

By Étienne Garbugli,

Book cover of Lean B2B: Build Products Businesses Want

What is my book about?

Lean B2B consolidates the best thinking around Business-to-Business (B2B) customer development to help technology entrepreneurs quickly find traction in the enterprise, leaving as little as possible to luck. Thousands of entrepreneurs and innovators around the world are using the Lean B2B methodology to bring new products to market.

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