Organizational Wellness

Nine Books on Managing People That Sharpen Your Leadership Skills

Sep 19, 2023
Last Updated Sep 19, 2023

Being an effective leader requires a great deal of insight into motivation, management, and the ever-evolving dynamics of today's workplaces. Whether you are leading a small team or heading up a large organization, the ability to effectively manage teams is crucial for success. It is essential to stay up-to-date with the best practices in team management and leadership to enhance your skills in this constantly evolving landscape.

This curated list of nine must-read leadership books will help you on your journey to becoming a great manager. They provide valuable lessons on managing people in today's dynamic workplaces, as well as practical strategies HR leaders can use in their daily team interactions.

The Benefits of Reading Management Books

Even the most natural leaders can benefit from gaining new perspectives. There are endless resources from experts around the world that can help reinforce existing management skills as well as uncover blind spots. 

Books provide a perspective into someone else’s observations and research, allowing readers to understand the pros and cons of a variety of different types of leadership styles. The genre also usually outlines actionable steps that can be immediately applied to your own leadership approach, plus you get real examples and scenarios that provide even more context.

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Great Books on Managing People

  1. “The One Minute Manager” by Kenneth Blanchard Ph.D. and Spencer Johnson M.D.

This management book is a great option if you’re looking for simple, clear, and practical ways to practice better management skills. “The One Minute Manager” is a fairly easy read that presents a management philosophy with three simple techniques:

  1. One-minute goal setting
  2. One-minute praising
  3. One-minute redirects

The authors found that you can build more positive relationships that include praise, accountability, and improvement by delivering feedback in 60 seconds. These steps provide clear expectations, address issues, and encourage good behaviors in a timely and respectful manner. This quick read can make a big difference.

  1. “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie

Making authentic connections with others can be challenging, but Dale Carnegie breaks down just how to build better relationships that will serve both your personal and professional life. With valuable interpersonal advice and useful insights into psychology, this management book will help you boost your communication skills, learn how to handle difficult situations or conversations, and influence others in a meaningful way. Some of the highlights include:

  • Be genuinely interested in others.
  • Practice active listening.
  • Avoid criticism and focus on appreciation.
  • Understand the perspective of others and build rapport.

Filled with many other gems like these examples, you don’t want to miss this classic management book.

  1. “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change” by Stephen R. Covey

Great leaders know how to lead themselves before they expect others to follow. If you’re ready to build healthy and helpful habits that will make you even more effective as a manager, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change” is a great place to start. This book is straightforward, well-written, and actionable—the millions of copies sold speak for themselves.

Covey helps readers understand the impact of personal effectiveness and how our own principles and habits can help us be continuous learners and achieve our goals. Spoiler alert: here’s a sneak peek at what you can expect from reading:

  1. Be proactive
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Put first things first
  4. Think win-win
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the saw

If these ideas intrigue you, there are even more insights to enjoy once you delve into the book itself.

  1. “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” by Daniel H. Pink

Everyone is motivated by something, so how do you as a leader discover what motivates you and those in your circle of influence? “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” aims to answer that question and has helped many executives and leaders improve their work culture. 

With powerful insights into what drives people, Pink found that there are better ways to increase productivity and motivate people outside of external rewards and punishments. Instead, Pink discusses three important elements:

  • Autonomy: the desire to have control over our own lives.
  • Mastery: the desire to improve and grow our skills and knowledge.
  • Purpose: the desire to contribute to something larger than oneself and make a meaningful impact.

With many research studies and examples laid out, this book is a compelling and exciting perspective on human motivation, especially in the workplace.

  1. “Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity” by Kim Scott

The workplace involves constant problem-solving, and a natural byproduct of problem-solving is conflict and difficult conversations. Scott provides readers with excellent advice for those preparing to lead, especially when it comes to handling difficult conversations.

Radical candor is rooted in the idea that you can give feedback that is both caring and direct, meaning you can be an efficient leader and actually help co-workers improve their performance without being cruel or sabotaging relationships. Scott’s main advice comes down to this model:

  • Care personally
  • Challenge directly

This allows you to provide frequent and honest feedback, even if it means challenging an individual. You can do so by building trust with coworkers, establishing a culture of improvement, and communicating effectively. With its own refreshing honesty, “Radical Candor” helps leaders practice both empathy and accountability to create a more productive and engaged workforce.

  1. “Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter” by Liz Wiseman

If you’re looking for short books on managing people, this is a good option. It explores the characteristics and behaviors of effective leaders who amplify the intelligence and capacity of their team members. This book is a great read for learning how to build others up and increase the quality of a team. 

The author identifies two types of leaders: Multipliers and Diminishers. 

  • Multipliers are leaders who create a culture of intelligence by leveraging the skills and potential of their team members.
  • Diminishers are leaders who stifle the intelligence and creativity of their team members by relying on their own intelligence.

You'll find practical and fascinating advice in these pages supported with case studies and examples to illustrate these concepts.

Great Books on Managing Employee Wellbeing

Taking care of people is the core of management. These three books can help leaders tend to the physical and emotional needs of their team members, which can lead to a more productive and profitable workforce.

  1. “Beating Burnout at Work: Why Teams Hold the Secret to Well-Being and Resilience” by Paula Davis

Burnout continues to be a widespread issue across industries, and Davis provides science-backed solutions that are clear and digestible. 

As she frames it, eliminating burnout is possible when you look at it as a systemic problem rather than a personal one. Davis suggests that managing burnout drivers requires a collective effort that involves both individuals and teams that focus on trust, belonging, purpose, and interpersonal mindfulness in the workplace. This builds resilience and high performance on your teams, and Davis gives readers the tools and actions leaders can take to create this kind of environment.

  1. “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” by Simon Sinek

If you want quality advice for inspiring and influencing people, this book is for you. 

Sinek dives deep into what motivates our business decision-making. As explored in the book, it’s important for an organization to determine it’s Why, How, and What in order to function properly. Many organizations jump straight to the How or What of their business, but Sinek suggests starting with Why.

The Why of an organization refers to its purpose, cause, or belief. Understanding the why makes it easier to inspire and engage others since the “why” of it all resonates with the values and emotions of people. “Start with Why” provides many case studies and offers applicable advice for leaders who want to better understand and communicate their Why with a workforce. 

  1. “Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace: A Practical Guide for Employers and Employees” by Gill Hasson & Donna Butler

Employee wellbeing is critical in today’s workforce. Hasson and Butler write about improving the health and wellbeing of all workers, with a particular emphasis on mental health.

Managers are uniquely positioned to support employee wellbeing by shifting the attitudes on mental health, destigmatizing those affected by it, and addressing the real challenges that people face in work settings. This book is very human and understandable,offering tools and techniques for managing those health issues and creating a supportive work environment. Teaching leaders how to foster resilience and mindfulness while also diving into the ethical and legal aspects of the workplace, this book is a go-to for handling mental wellness with empathy and professionalism.

Leading The Way to a Better Workplace

Management skills are critical to team success. As the saying goes, people don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses. Having leadership with the right management skills and styles can boost your company’s productivity and reduce turnover. 

A wellbeing program can have the same impact. Employee wellness initiatives have been shown to boost productivity and increase retention, which is why nine out of 10 companies that track theri wellness spending see a positive ROI. 

With Gympass, HR leaders can provide their employees with access to thousands of wellness providers and apps all at an affordable price. This wide variety of options helps boost employee engagement, part of why Gympass clients see turnover reduce by up to 40%.

Investing in Gympass is investing in company performance, so speak with a wellbeing specialist today!

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References

  • Bien, H. (2022, March 7). 8 Career Books to Read About Managing People. Apartment Therapy. Retrieved May 11, 2023, from https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/8-career-books-managing-people-37048137
  • Carnegie, D. (1999). How To Win Friends And Influence People. Simon & Schuster Audio.
  • Carpenter, D. (2023, January 19). 20 Best Management Books That Will Make You a Great Leader. LifeHack. Retrieved May 11, 2023, from https://www.lifehack.org/872361/best-management-books
  • Covey, S. R. (1989). The seven habits of highly effective people. Simon and Schuster.
  • Davis, P. (2021). Beating Burnout at Work: Why Teams Hold the Secret to Well-Being and Resilience. Wharton School Press.
  • Goodreads. People Management Books. Goodreads. Retrieved May 11, 2023, from https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/people-management
  • Hasson, G., & Butler, D. (2020). Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace: A Practical Guide for Employers and Employees. Wiley.
  • Johnson, S., & Blanchard, K. H. (1983). The One Minute Manager. Willow.
  • Pink, D. H. (2011). Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Penguin Publishing Group.
  • Scott, K. (2017). Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity. St. Martin's Publishing Group.
  • Sinek, S. (2011). Start with why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. Penguin Business.
  • Wiseman, L., & McKeown, G. (2010). Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. HarperCollins.

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Gympass Editorial Team

The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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