Best books for manager

We’ve all seen the great leaders of the world, whether they’re in charge of a business, a team, or even just running their own lives effectively.

They seem to make things work; they always know what to do and when to do it; they seem unflappable and in control of every situation they find themselves in.

But how do they get that way? What gives them such effective management skills? That’s what these best books on management will teach you about.

There are some must-read books on management that help even the most novice manager learn how to inspire employees, motivate them, and get them on board with the company’s goals.

It’s easy to get bogged down in running your company day-to-day and much harder to take time out of your busy schedule to reflect and plan for future growth.

If you’re going to be successful as a manager, the best way is by reading through business books about improving management skills, establishing a vision for your business, and setting ambitious goals for your company.

The following list of the 21 most memorable best books on management offers something for everyone, from entrepreneurs to CEOs and everyone in between.

Whether you’re looking to learn about how to best manage your team or just want to read about some of the greatest business minds of our time, this list has you covered!

21 Best Books on Management Every Manager Should Read

1. The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business

Author(s): Patrick M. Lencioni

This is one of the best books on management, The Advantage will show you how organizational health is more important than anything else in growth and success.

What does it mean to have a healthy organization?

According to Patrick M. Lencioni, there are five attributes that contribute to organizational health:

  • simplicity,
  • focus,
  • speed,
  • clarity, and
  • autonomy.

Lencioni breaks down how each attribute contributes to a company’s success and provides examples of companies that succeeded because they could maintain those attributes (Honda, Disney) or failed because of a lack thereof (Eastman Kodak).

By incorporating these practices into your business model and by knowing what situations call for which strategy, you’ll be able to increase your competitive advantage in any industry.

If you’re interested in why companies succeed or fail, The Advantage is required reading.

2. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t

Author(s): Jim Collins

Jim Collins’ Good to Great was published in 2001 and follows his management bestseller Built to Last. This is a book with almost religious status among managers, and it’s easy to see why.

Good to Great has sold over five million copies since its release, so it clearly resonates with people.

The book studies companies across decades (20 years or more) and analyzes their performance using variables such as

  • profitability,
  • stock performance,
  • return on investment (ROI),
  • market value,
  • growth rate,
  • employee satisfaction level, and
  • customer satisfaction level.

It then identifies those companies that performed significantly better than their industry peers over long periods of time.

And from there determines how these companies differ from others in terms of leadership style and operating practices.

This book is a game-changer for me. If you read nothing else on management, read Good to Great. It’s a short but powerful and one of the best management books.

This book showed me we need BOTH goals AND purpose to be successful in anything; creating a why statement–no matter how grandiose–is pivotal in achieving success personally or in business.

3. How Will You Measure Your Life?

Author(s): Clayton Christensen

How will you measure your life

How Will You Measure Your Life is one of my favorite books, and it’s a must-read for any aspiring entrepreneur.

Clayton Christensen argues that it’s better to focus on being productive—which he defines as working hard and being able to justify your time—than it is to focus on working hard.

His framework for thinking about productivity is simple: measure your success by what you produce, not how hard you work at things.

And know that your level of happiness won’t be determined by whether you achieve all of your goals.

Christensen is famous for having killed disruptive innovation.

He always makes his points in an entertaining and engaging way and really drives home how some of the business’ most well-established principles are now obsolete.

According to Clayton Christensen, there are no bad companies, just bad CEOs. This book gives readers a set of ideas and ideals to help them focus on what really matters in life–not just at work.

If you’re looking for inspiration and practical advice about how to live a more meaningful life both personally and professionally, it’s well worth a read. 

4. Outliers: The Story of Success

Author(s): Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers The Story of Success

Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers looks at how it takes thousands of hours of hard work to become an expert.

It might not be immediately obvious, but many people hit their peak when they’re in their mid-twenties.

This book challenges that idea and suggests that our drive to master a particular skill isn’t innate—it comes from countless hours of practice.

Gladwell uses examples from Bill Gates and The Beatles to illustrate his point that success is often more about circumstance than natural talent.

Definitely worth reading if you want an interesting perspective on what makes someone successful in any field.

Gladwell’s theory, backed by research, is that success isn’t something to be achieved through hard work alone. It also requires opportunity.

So, If you want to get ahead in your career, you can’t just put in more hours; ensure that you’re taking advantage of as many outliers as possible.

The best way to do that is by picking up Outliers, which explains exactly what these outliers are and how we can create them for ourselves (and others).

5. Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter

Author(s): Liz Wiseman, Greg Mckeown

One of my favorite management books of all time, Multipliers (by Liz Wiseman & Greg Mckeown) explores how certain leaders can bring out everyone’s best work.

These multipliers encourage curiosity, embrace debate and see every challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow.

This is not your typical book about how to give feedback or manage projects; rather, it focuses on leadership principles that will change how you approach your team

And just might change your life in a very positive way. You can buy Multipliers here.

Bestselling leadership author Liz Wiseman argues that today’s most effective leaders build on their team’s talent and intelligence.

They are Multipliers who help people get better, smarter, and more creative at work.

But there is a dangerous flip side: Many leaders unwittingly act as Diminishers—devouring a disproportionate share of their organization’s intelligence, attention, and resources.

The Diminisher leader operates in predictable patterns that diminish everyone around them while they achieve results—at least in the short term.

This book explains how to recognize these patterns (and improve your own management style).

Wiseman describes what it takes to become a Multiplier—and shares personal stories of great leaders who are applying these principles in real-time.

This is another book on management.

6. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

Author(s): Ben Horowitz

Silicon Valley views Ben Horowitz as a legend.

He’s an early-stage venture capitalist at Andreessen Horowitz who invested in companies like

  • Instagram,
  • Twitter,
  • Airbnb, and
  • Facebook.

In his book The Hard Thing About Hard Things, he uses stories from his own experience to teach hard-hitting lessons about startups.

It’s a powerful book that illustrates important management skills you can use right away.

One of my favorite parts of The Hard Thing About Hard Things is where Horowitz describes how to fire people properly.

This is another book on management.

7. The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You

Author(s): Julie Zhuo

Aspiring managers everywhere face new challenges as they look to build their careers. 

They want to get ahead and succeed but don’t always know how—or who—to turn to for help.

In The Making of a Manager, you’ll find solid advice from successful managers on how to;

  • navigate your career,
  • give feedback,
  • set a strategy, and
  • plan for success at every stage of your managerial development.

This book is one of the best books on management.

You can learn how some key ideas can be applied immediately no matter where you are in your career path—and those that take time and experience to master.

The book will challenge you to think about management differently so that when opportunities arise, your decision-making will be quick and confident.

Inside this book, you’ll discover

  • The path from individual contributor to a manager
  • How to develop self-awareness
  • How to create an actionable strategy… And much more!

8. 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do

Author(s): Amy Morin

The book is an outstanding read that details how you can use your mental strength to fight off negative thinking and anxiety.

This isn’t easy—but it is possible with dedicated effort.

These days, many people are struggling to remain positive and in control because they’ve let negativity take over their lives.

If you’re looking for a way to fight off these mental monsters, this book is one of your best bets.

Her advice is practical and actionable and she also uses lots of examples to help you understand what she’s saying.

For example, on page 68 she writes: Mentally strong people don’t allow toxic relationships to linger.

She then explains what makes a relationship toxic, as well as why it’s important not to keep such relationships around if you want to be happy and successful.

There are 13 different things that mentally strong people don’t do:

  • They don’t give away their power;
  • They don’t blame others;
  • They don’t seek perfection;
  • They don’t compare themselves with others;
  • They aren’t pessimists;
  • They don’t dwell on mistakes; etc.

9. The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups

Author(s): Daniel Coyle

The Culture Code is based on hundreds of interviews with successful and is a must-read for anyone who wants to deepen their understanding of how culture shapes behavior.

This is one of the management books you want to read.

The book explores how some teams just work—and even thrive—while others self-destruct or go nowhere.

Coyle profiles twenty-two of these high-performance groups, and what they have in common is that they’ve each successfully addressed an aspect of organizational culture that often goes unnoticed: whole team synergy.

In such groups, where trust among teammates is unusually strong, quality feedback flows openly back and forth along information pathways.

This book is chock-full of ways to be more effective at communicating with your employees and has some powerful strategies for improving teamwork.

We can sum the bulk of its advice up in three words: culture, communication, and context. Coyle says that everything you need to know about how to manage other people is rooted in those three things.

Managing people isn’t about telling them what to do or expecting something from them; it’s about understanding how they see themselves and their jobs and then tapping into their own cultural tools.

10. Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Author(s): Simon Sinek

In order to inspire people to take action, one of, if not THE most important factor is leadership.

What’s a great book about leadership? Start With Why.

Simon Sinek does an amazing job showing how some leaders can create actions in followers who may not know exactly why they’re doing something.

The most successful organizations in history, from Apple to Zappos, have all succeeded because they have aligned their businesses around an idea that resonates deeply with customers.

In Start With Why, renowned marketing expert Simon Sinek presents a revolutionary model for how leaders can inspire people to join them in taking action.

He shows how great leaders inspire action by first getting people to connect with why they exist as a company, organization or brand.

Some books about management are all about establishing systems and structures for people; Start With Why is more interested in helping managers get their employees excited about doing what they do.

And that type of inspiration is crucial for any new manager.

It’s hard enough trying to learn how to manage people effectively, but it’s impossible when your employees have no motivation or desire to work with you.

This book will help you become a better leader and a great manager.

11. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Author(s): Stephen R. Covey

It’s easy to get bogged down in running your company day-to-day. It’s much harder to take time out of your busy schedule to reflect and plan for future growth.

In his book, Stephen R. Covey shows how you can use seven basic principles to help organize your personal and professional life.

He advocates that these strategies will create stronger families, happier communities, and a more stable world.

Covey writes in an engaging style that makes it easy to understand difficult concepts, while offering advice and techniques readers can immediately put into practice in their own lives.

A cornerstone business management text for more than 20 years, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has become a reference for modern living for millions of people around the world

Changing countless lives for the better since its original publication date in 1989. It’s also been part of many leadership training programs and community initiatives—and even inspired a hit movie!

Stephen Covey’s inspirational tome, which sold 25 million copies in 38 languages, is now available in a 30th-anniversary edition.

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He filled this book with timeless advice for people at every level of management.

When you understand these principles (in this book) and work to incorporate them into your life, nothing will stop you from achieving your goals.

12. How to Win Friends & Influence People

Author(s): Dale Carnegie

Carnegie wrote his classic guide to people skills in 1936 and it’s never been out of print.

Widely considered to be one of the most important books on management ever written, it features timeless wisdom on dealing with difficult people, handling conflict, and achieving success through influence.

Many consider it to be Carnegie’s masterpiece—and for good reason: This book gets to the heart of what makes leaders effective.

Today, over 75 years after its publication, HFGWIP still offers powerful lessons on becoming a better manager.

In this book, Carnegie explains how to manage effectively, while also giving you tips on sales and boosting your career.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey: A great read for new managers, as it shows you exactly how to be more effective and efficient at work. 

It helps managers understand how they can impact relationships.

It’s not just another pop psychology self-help book; it’s an essential toolbox that provides practical tips and useful advice for anyone who interacts with other people at work or home.

Anyone who wants to succeed needs to know how to get along with others and Carnegie knows exactly how we can achieve our goals by getting along (and winning friends) while doing so.

13. ReWork: (Vermilion Life Essentials)

Author(s): Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

This is one of my favorite business books of all time.

If you want to learn how to manage and lead people, then I highly recommend it.

Rework is a handbook for small businesses looking to navigate their way through complicated processes and systems.

If you’re trying to start your own business or need some help to get things back in order, Rework is one of the best management books for you!

Even though it’s less than 100 pages, it contains tons of actionable advice and wisdom from their experiences running 37signals.

I love how they give real examples of ideas rather than just trying to tell you something is good or bad.

It’s an excellent read for anyone who wants better management skills, wants to approach entrepreneurship, business, and/or just about every aspect of life.

It contains several insightful quotes as well, including If it’s hard to do, then it’s probably worth doing.

Here are some quotes from ReWork you might probably love:

  • The harder you push on something, especially when you’re dealing with people, the more resistance there is going to be.
  • Pushing hard actually makes things more complicated.
  • Let things happen at their own speed and all your pushing won’t have much effect.

14. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Author(s): Sheryl Sandberg

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg discusses her career, how to achieve work-life balance, and what women need to do in order to be leaders.

This is a great book for anyone looking for some management inspiration.

The first three-quarters are a quick read and will help you identify any problems with your own leadership style (if there are any).

I found that reading through part of it quickly at least once every year is a good way to make sure you’re always pushing yourself further as a leader.

If you get stuck in your role or feel stagnant, returning to Lean In can help spark a fresh perspective on your work-life balance, professional expectations, and all-around outlook on life.

There are hundreds of books about gender inequality (and dozens specifically about women and leadership);

But Lean In belongs at the top of your reading list because it deals with one of those topics most relevant for professional development—how you can get ahead of yourself.

15. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful

Author(s): Marshall Goldsmith, Mark Reiter

The title of Marshall Goldsmith’s bestselling management book is catchy, but it speaks to some of the biggest issues for leaders.

We’re often promoted into leadership roles because of our technical expertise or dedication, but these characteristics aren’t always well-suited for management.

For instance, if you have an eye for detail and are consistently praised for your work ethic, these qualities may help you succeed in your current role.

But as you take on more managerial responsibilities—such as hiring new employees—you may face challenges because what got you here won’t get you there.

To be successful in your new role, you need to develop a more strategic approach; if this doesn’t happen, you risk your labor going unnoticed.

In order to ensure that you continue to be successful, it’s important to understand what made you successful. This is best explained in this book.

Goldsmith breaks down ten principles that have propelled him from success to success, including focusing on strengths and putting relationships above results.

It might sound obvious, but acknowledging how your approach has benefitted your business so far will not only help you grow but can also lead to more profitable decision-making.

16. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It

Author(s): Michael E. Gerber

Many of us are so focused on our businesses—finding new clients, staying on top of our work, growing our teams that we don’t take time to reflect.

Developing yourself as a leader is crucial; you can’t effectively lead others if you aren’t leading yourself first.

For an eye-opening and highly relevant read, turn to The E-Myth Revisited.

Michael E. Gerber wrote his influential business classic nearly 20 years ago, but it’s still one of my favorites on running a business because he does an excellent job of describing how to structure your company for success (and why many companies fail).

His book popularized something he calls the disciplined entrepreneur, which is all about forming your company around systems that don’t require you to show up every day.

Gerber uses modern entrepreneurship examples (and his own story) to prove his point: If you want your business to be successful long term, think about how you want your company to run before it even launches.

17. The New One Minute Manager

Author(s): Ken Blanchard, Spencer Johnson M.D.

Originally published in 1982, The One Minute Manager provides a concise and memorable lesson that effective management comes down to one thing: Clarity.

When you, as a manager, can effectively communicate what needs to be done and why it needs to be done, you can save your employees from having to micromanage every task.

The book is one of the best management books.  It gives real-world examples that are still relevant today; unlike some of its other classics.

The first time I read The One Minute Manager, its simplicity deeply impressed me.

This book is an amazing and easy read that reminds us to be more human in our business relationships.

Blanchard’s characters are relatable and memorable; his lessons are easy to remember because they are in short chapters with memorable titles such as, Do it now! Or Go for yourself!.

We can apply the tips to any part of life. If you’re looking for a book that will change your life, start here. It’s a quick read but will forever change how you approach your team.

18. Managing For Dummies

Author(s): Bob Nelson, Peter Economy

Managing for Dummies is one of the best books on management.

Most people have a misconception about good management; They think it’s about getting people to do what you say.

On an intuitive level, however, we all know it’s not that simple.

If you want employees to be engaged and passionate in their work, you need to guide them without micromanaging their day-to-day activities.

Managing for Dummies by Bob Nelson and Peter Economy is an excellent book on managing. In it, you’ll learn how to hire and keep quality employees.

This management book also teaches you how to set clear expectations with your team.

With a few simple strategies from this guide, such as one-on-one check-ins and unlimited vacation, you can make your company an awesome place to work.

19. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, Third Edition

Author(s): Joseph Grenny; Kerry Patterson; Ron McMillan; Al Switzler; Emily Gregory

Dealing with sensitive issues, especially in a business setting, can be incredibly difficult.

Without training and preparation, talking about delicate matters can feel like walking a tightrope: either you make it through or you fall.

And if things don’t go your way, it might put your career in jeopardy.

In Crucial Conversations, the authors give readers a set of tools for preparing for and handling tough conversations that can make all the difference when you’re on a tightrope—or trying to guide someone else across one.

This book offers a framework for talking about your expectations, avoiding hot buttons and triggers, using active listening, and handling interruptions.

Whatever your role in the business (manager or not), if you have to communicate with coworkers, clients, or customers—this is good stuff to know.

Crucial Conversations teaches techniques for defusing conflicts with customers, co-workers, and other important stakeholders.

The techniques include identifying hot buttons, finding shared interests, and learning how to control conversations.

It’s definitely worth reading if you’re trying to manage relationships at home, in your business, or with clients.

20. On Becoming a Leader

Author(s): Warren Bennis

This best-selling book (On Becoming a Leader) focuses on how you can become a better leader regardless of your position in an organization.

This is one of the best management books out there.

It explores topics like identity, culture, and personal motivation–elements that rarely make it into business books but are crucial to an organization’s success.

Bennis is known for pioneering research about leadership styles, which makes On Becoming a Leader worth reading even today.

To be successful in management, you need to understand how to motivate others–a skill that comes from understanding who you are as an individual first.

The author offers personal anecdotes and advice from dozens of leaders to explain his main principle: People don’t follow titles; they follow those who lead.

He argues that management skills are learned, not innate, and describes six basic competencies that every effective leader should master:

  • technical competence;
  • human relations;
  • conceptual thinking;
  • taking initiative;
  • empowering others; and
  • political savvy.

You may not become CEO overnight after reading Bennis’ book, but it will help you gain valuable insight into one of today’s most important jobs.

This is another best book on management, and it worth you time.

21. The Dichotomy of Leadership

Author(s): Jocko Willink & Leif Babin

Jocko Willink and Leif Babin were two of America’s most highly decorated special operators.

Now they run a leadership academy for some of today’s top military, law enforcement, and business leaders.

In The Dichotomy of Leadership, they present their approach to being a leader in all areas: individuals, groups, organizations, communities, and citizens.

Leadership is difficult to master, and a strong complex skill set is required.

However, Jocko and Leif offer tangible leadership advice from battlefield experiences to help leaders deal with team members, both within and outside of their organization.

The pair describes that there are two types of leaders: dominant or support; and operators or administrators. Leaders who can employ both styles effectively will lead effectively through different situations.

This is a must-read for any manager that needs an advantage in getting things done.

[Bonus:] Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis & Annie Mckee

Inspiring and thought-provoking, Primal Leadership is a book on managing behavior.

This book on management expands on a concept called emotional intelligence which tries to describe how emotions impact our thinking, acting, and feeling.

Author Annie McKee says that the quest for power can distort empathy and blunt communication but leaders who understand their own emotions, and those of others, can become even more effective.

With examples from corporate leaders like Alan Mulally (Ford), Bill George (Medtronic), and Doug Burgum (Gateway), it also looks at what behaviors need to be changed in order to change people’s lives for the better.

The book focuses on four main leadership styles:

  • directing,
  • inspiring,
  • affiliating, and
  • envisioning.

Goleman believes that there are many kinds of leaders – some good, some bad – but he thinks there are two kinds of great leaders:

Those who have great technical expertise; they’re fantastic at making something happen or getting things done.

And people with deep relationships; – they don’t know all about technology or whatever it is they’re leading –

But they have these deep connections with other human beings because they’ve learned how to relate to them in ways that are meaningful.

This is one of the best books on management and it’s worth reading.

Which Book Would You Like to Read First?

Or perhaps there are other best books on management you read, that have impacted your life positively, and you like to share (and want us to add to the list).

The comment box below is for you to share your thoughts.

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