10 Books Every Manager Should Read

Is there anything that is nearly as powerful as books? Books are, arguably, among the most potent things that man ever invented! Why books have the power to open our minds to an entirely new horizon that we never imagined. Books offer the key to the acquisition of infinite wisdom, knowledge, and amazing new possibilities.

If you get the right book into your hands, you will have opened a door of empowerment that is worth countless years of experience. You will acquire the capacity to engineer new mind-blowing concepts and ideas of your own that you never believed existed.

If you wish to be a good manager, you may gain the most amazing benefits from the books you read. Moreover, research has demonstrated that regular reading can improve our intelligence, leading to remarkable innovation and insight. In-depth reading cultivates talents, knowledge, and habits that will help managers vastly strengthen their organizational capacity and leadership skills.

10 Books Every Manager Should Read
A woman reading a book near the window

Leaders must be readers 

Harry S. Truman, a famous former US president, made a fascinating comment on this subject. Truman pointed out that all leaders must be readers, even though not all readers will be leaders. The celebrated Apple founder, Steve Jobs, reportedly had an insatiable interest in the life and works of William Blake.

Moreover, Phil Knight, who is the founder of Nike, apparently revered his library so much that if you ever visited the room, you would be forced to first take off your shoes before getting in! Elon Musk, who is the brain behind the epic Space X and Tesla Motors is a well-documented avid reader. The legendary Bill Gates of Microsoft reportedly reads no less than 50 books per year! Do we need to go on? We all get the point, don’t we? The ingredient of being a successful manager is to read books!

So, what are the 10 choice books that every manager should read? Let us dare to discover.

The 10 must-read books for every manager

1. The One Minute Manager

The New One Minute Manager
  • William Morrow Company
  • Hardcover Book
  • Blanchard, Ken (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 112 Pages - 05/01/2015 (Publication Date) - William Morrow Co. (Publisher)

This book is authored by two writers, Spencer Johnson and Kenneth Blanchard. It was first published by William Morrow back in 1981. Interestingly, millions of managers, both in small businesses and the Fortune 500 companies, have religiously followed techniques derived from the epic ‘One Minute Manager’ with outstanding success.

What has been the result? Almost every manager who consistently read these books reported getting more job satisfaction increased productivity, and heightened personal prosperity. Significantly, these results were always realized through the adoption of new management techniques that led to higher profitability, both for the organizations they work for and their employees. What is the essence of this work? It reveals three big secrets.

Learn About the Three Secrets of Success

The One Minute Manager is an easy read, short story. It dramatically reveals three practical secrets for success. These are the One Minute Praisings, One Minute Reprimands, and One Minute Goals. This book presents a few studies in the behavioral sciences and medicine that explain clearly why these seemingly simple methods used by many people, tend to work so well.

As you reach the end of the book, you will hopefully have mastered how to apply these secrets to your unique situation to reap the benefits. Is it any wonder that the epic One Minute Manager has for decades maintained its place in the list of business bestsellers? Moreover, today, the book is widely regarded as a true international sensation.

Hurry up! This book certainly belongs on your tablet, kindle, or cherished bookshelf!

2. First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest

First, Break All The Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently
  • Perseus-Gallup Press
  • Hardcover Book
  • Marcus Buckingham (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 368 Pages - 05/03/2016 (Publication Date) - Gallup Press (Publisher)

Managers do differently

This book is also written by two authors: Curt Coffman and Marcus Buckingham. It was first published in 1999 by Simon and Shuster.

In this book, “First, Break All the Rules,” the authors present the remarkable conclusions of an in-depth study of what is regarded as the world’s greatest managers. Most of these leaders excelled at turning an individual employee’s talent into superb performance.

When you read this book, you will discover that these managers differ in age, race, and sex. They employ various personal styles and aim at different goals. Despite these differences, the world’s most excellent managers share one crucial trait: they all break almost every rule that conventional wisdom holds as sacred.

Managers ignored every rule

For instance, they do not believe, as many do, that, given training, every person can achieve whatever they set their mind on. Even more impressive, they do not try to help their charges overcome personal weaknesses. They flagrantly disregard every important golden rule. What is more, against the norms, they deliberately play favorites!

Ordinarily, many companies struggle to find and retain the best employees using goodies like benefits, pay, training, and promotions. The gurus, however, discovered that such well-intentioned efforts usually miss the mark; by far. Instead, against expectations, they found that the front-line manager is the one who holds the key to recruitment and retention of talented employees.

Sampled: 80,000 managers, 400 companies

This fantastic, revolutionary book will teach you how the world’s best managers select employees, zoning in on talent rather than experience or skills. We also learn about how these managers motivate, develop people, and how they generally set expectations.

Gallup’s research sampled about 80,000 managers in 400 different companies. The survey came up with twelve simple questions. The questions set apart a company’s most active department from the rest. The book, “First, Break All the Rules,” skillfully introduces the all-important measuring stick, proving an essential link between the opinions of employees and customer satisfaction, rate of turnover, productivity, and profit.

10 Books Every Manager Should Read
A person reading while coffee and glasses are on the table

3. When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long Term

When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management
  • Random House Trade
  • Lowenstein, Roger (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 304 Pages - 10/09/2001 (Publication Date) - Random House Trade Paperbacks (Publisher)

Capital management

Roger Lowenstein wrote this book and was published by Random House Trade, sometime in 2001.

‘When Genius Failed’ is a typical, modern-day business classic. In the latest afterword, the author, Roger Lowenstein, draws poignant parallels to certain significant modern financial crises. He graphically captures the new Long-Term Capital Management crisis, much like a thrilling roller-coaster ride.

Based on several secret internal memos and interviews with scores of key players, Lowenstein masterfully explains both how this fund made and ultimately lost its money.

The failed financial genius

He precisely relates how the Long-Term partner’s conflicting personalities, the sheer arrogance of their self-driven mathematical certainties, and the brazen culture of Wall Street dynamics slowly led to the rise and fall of this supposed financial genius. So, how did the big story go?

At the time of its founding in 1993, Long-Term was widely praised as the most ambitious hedge fund that was ever conceived in man’s history. However, after barely four years, during which time the firm lit up Wall Street as a huge money-making juggernaut valued at a staggering $100 billion, the fund suffered sudden catastrophic losses. The shocking jolt put the most prominent financial institutions on Wall Street at considerable risk. It also set the stability of the entire world financial system in jeopardy.

Today, the dramatic story, describing the rise and fall of Long Term, is a chilling story of an unprecedented crisis that would ever strike the nerve-center of Wall Street. It is loosely comparable to the AIG and the Lehman Brothers crises that shook the markets only a decade later.

4. Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive

Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive: Outsell, Outmanage, Outmotivate, and Outnegotiate...
  • Great product!
  • Mackay, Harvey B. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages - 01/18/2005 (Publication Date) - Harper Business (Publisher)

This book was written by Harvey B. Mackay and came off the Harper Business presses in 2005. The book has been described as a handbook that shoots straight-from-the-hip.

Harvey B. Mackay is hailed as a self-made millionaire and bestselling author. In this book, he does everything to spell out to readers everywhere the path to success. Here, you will learn several things. Mackay masterfully teaches things like how to outsell through winning appointments with significant people who do not want you near them. He explains how to make such important people so glad that they eventually tell you: “yes!”

Join the one million millionaires

According to the author, what is another way to outmanage? You can do this by getting armed with lots of information on your customers, prospects, and competitors in a way that the CIA would envy! How do you do this?

You can do this using a system known as the “Mackay 66”. Here you, generally work to out-motivate using the author’s insights. You help yourself, or your kids join the class of America’s proud one million millionaires! Swim with the sharks, the author urges. Learn how to out-negotiate people, knowing the right time to “say no, smile, or unleash the clones!”

10 Books Every Manager Should Read
A person reading from a tablet

5. Built To Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (Good to Great)
  • Great product!
  • Collins, Jim (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 368 Pages - 10/26/1994 (Publication Date) - Harper Business (Publisher)

The book, published in 1994 by Harper Collins, was written by Jerry I. Poras and James C. Collins.

This book is not about charismatic leaders. It is not about visionary concepts or market insights. Nor is it just about having a corporate vision. According to the authors, this is a book about substantial endurance. It has a lot to do with visionary companies.

Indeed, ‘Built to Last’ is a truly groundbreaking book. It gives new insights, shatters myths, and offers practical guidance to people who wish to build landmark companies that would stand the test of time. The book is based on a research project that took six years at the Stanford University School of Business. 

Collins and Porras sampled eighteen highly-exceptional, long-lasting companies. These had an average age of almost one hundred years, yet, by a factor of fifteen, they had continued to outperform the general stock market since 1926. The authors studied each of these companies in comparison to one of its main competitors.

6. In Search Of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best-Run

In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies
  • HarperBusiness
  • Peters, Thomas J. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages - 02/07/2006 (Publication Date) - Harper Business (Publisher)


Robert H. Waterman and Thomas Peters wrote the book and was published in 1982 by Harper Collins. Remarkably, this book remained in the list of the bestsellers of the “New York Times” for more than three years.

In their quest to unearth the secrets of proper management, the authors, Waterman and Peters, decided to embark on a study of 43 highly successful American companies. These companies specialized in areas like high technology, consumer goods, and services. The results were interesting.

The authors discovered that, regardless of the differences that characterized each company, they all shared eight basic management principles that other corporate leaders can use to achieve success. Grab a copy of the book, and voila! You will instantly discover these secrets. They are well-illustrated, complete with examples, and anecdotes from the archives of the best companies in the world.

10 Books Every Manager Should Read
A person reading a book

7. Financial Intelligence

Financial Intelligence, Revised Edition (A Manager's Guide to Knowing What the Numbers Really Mean)
  • Harvard Business School Press
  • Hardcover Book
  • Berman, Karen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 304 Pages - 02/01/2013 (Publication Date) - Harvard Business Review Press (Publisher)

This book was first published by the Harvard Business Review Press in 2006. Joe Knight and Karen Berman co-author it. We know that companies usually expect their managers to run departments and allocate resources using available financial data.

Interestingly, it was discovered that many managers could not perform essential matters, like recognizing the liquidity ratio or reading a balance sheet. Moreover, most executives are unable to do other necessary things, like accurately calculating a return on investment. Worse, still, they have little idea about the reliability of data or even where the data comes from.

In their book, ‘Financial Intelligence,’ Joe Knight and Karen Berman endeavor to teach fundamental financial basics with a little twist. They argue that financial reporting is both an art and a science. Significantly, the writers note that most accountants usually rely on mere assumptions, estimates, and judgment calls. Why?

Numbers can be challenged

Often, the authors explain, nobody can completely quantify things. For this reason, savvy managers are well-advised to learn about how such sources of potential bias can adversely affect a company’s finances. In essence, they need to know that numbers can sometimes be challenged.

The book is jargon-free, full of highly entertaining stories featuring real companies, and quite accessible. This book can provide nonfinancial managers with essential knowledge of finances, giving them the confidence needed to perform their everyday tasks successfully.

Notably, Joe Knight and Karen Berman are the proprietors of the Busy Literacy Institute that is based in Los Angeles. The institute has, over the years, successfully trained thousands of managers who run leading corporate organizations. John Case, who also contributed to this work, has authored quite a few popular books for every manager to read about management matters.

8. Strength Finder 2.0

StrengthsFinder 2.0
  • self help with Tom Rath
  • Hardcover Book
  • Rath, Tom (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 175 Pages - 02/01/2007 (Publication Date) - Gallup Press (Publisher)

Tom Rath wrote the book and was published in 2007 by Gallup Press. In the ‘Strength Finder,’ the author asks some interesting questions. For instance, what is your engagement level? Are you doing what you do best? Is that what you do every day? He notes that, for most people, the probable answer to such questions is a resounding: No! Instead, from the cradle to the cubicle, people often spend more time trying to fix their shortcomings rather than develop their inner strengths.

Discover your talents

To help people everywhere uncover their talents, the Strength Finder work was introduced by Gallup in their 2001 management book, which came to be known as ‘Discover Your Strengths.’

The book was broadly based on a study of human strengths that took about 40 years. The Gallup designed a language featuring 34 most common talents. Eventually, the Clifton Strengths Finder assessment was developed to help people of all cadres discover these talents and describe them.

Best-selling management book

The original version of the Gallup assessment, in 2001, included the ‘Now Discover Your Talents,’ a management bestseller. In time, the discussion moved quickly, way beyond the book’s target audience. The aim was to initiate a global conversation dealing with what is inherently right with people. Seemingly, the world was more than ready for this kind of conversation.

Strength Finder 2.0 is a book that sparked a huge global conversation. In effect, it helped millions of people to discover and harness their top five talents. In the StrengthsFinder 2.0, Gallup offered readers a new, improved version of the earlier highly popular online assessment. The book features a few hundred strategies for readers to apply their strengths. Yes, Strength Finder 2.0 will forever change your image about yourself, together with the overall world perspective.

10 Books Every Manager Should Read
A woman reading a book

9. How to Win Friends and Influence People

How to Win Friends & Influence People
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Dale Carnegie (Author) - Andrew MacMillan (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 09/16/2004 (Publication Date) - Simon & Schuster Audio (Publisher)

Dale Carnegie wrote this book. It was first published in 1936. Pocket Books later published the present paperback edition. Indeed, this is an epic classic that is more than 80 years old. What are some life lessons you can get here? Yes, anyone can go for their dream job and grab it anytime! It is true; you can even improve it. You can turn around any situation and make it work to your advantage.

This book is among must-read books for every manager. Moreover, it is an excellent fit for every person, including employees in your company.

15 million copies sold

‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ is a book that has, since 1936, sold over 15 million copies. Indeed, Dale Carnegie’s first-ever book has proved to be a timeless bestseller. It is filled with sound advice that has catapulted thousands of famous people up the success ladder, whether in their personal or business lives.

Many decades later, this book remains ever relevant. Dale Carnegie’s principles have certainly endured and can help you attain the maximum potential in this highly complex and competitive world. Here, you will learn about six special ways to make people be like you. There are also twelve ways in which you can win people over to your thinking, and nine ways in which you can change people without stoking resentment.

10. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons In

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Stephen R. Covey (Author) - Stephen R. Covey (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 12/28/2003 (Publication Date) - Simon & Schuster Audio (Publisher)

Personal change

Stephen R. Covey wrote the book and was published in 1990 by Simon and Shuster. In his book, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, Stephen R. Covey gives an integrated, holistic approach that is principle-centered. This works to solve both personal and professional challenges.

In this work, Covey presents a practical, step-by-step guide for living with integrity, service, fairness, and human dignity. Such principles give us the security necessary to adapt to change. It provides us with the power and wisdom to take advantage of the many opportunities created by change. Covey delivers the gem masterfully, with pointed anecdotes and great insights.

10 Books Every Manager Should Read
A person reading a book while taking a beverage

Final thoughts: Books every manager should read

From this discussion, it is quite clear that every wise leader must be a voracious reader. Every manager needs to read widely to gain perspective, broaden horizons, and be well-equipped to take bold, well-informed, and imaginative decisions. As a manager, make time to read daily. Choose the right books that can read to become a greater manager.

Reading is one of the most notable daily habits that are characteristic of most successful people. Nevertheless, these successful people do not just read anything that they lay hands on. Instead, they are quite selective about their reading material.

The rich seem to prefer getting a life education rather than being entertained. Indeed, the huge difference in reading habits between the wealthy and others is simply remarkable. They typically read biographies, autobiographies, and other educational works, as opposed to ‘commonplace’ publications like magazines, tabloids, and novels.

Take action now! Visit your local library, select some of these page-turners, and settle down to read! Hopefully, this will help you to lead your team with much greater skill and enhanced confidence.

Thanks for reading with us today! Are you ready to take your management skills to the next level?

Discover additional management guides with our articles The Difference Between Team Leader and Manager, How to Motivate an Employee Who’s Underperforming in Your Cafe, or 5 Tips for Branding a Small Business!

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