“Leaders are made rather than born.”
Those words, spoken by author and management guru Warren Bennis, resonate for many people who have ascended the corporate ladder.
Consider, for instance, a junior executive who has been promoted to oversee a team of co-workers or lead a new project, or a seasoned professional thrust into a supervisory role with a new or unfamiliar company.
While hands-on training and trial-and-error experience are arguably the best means of learning the ropes of a new job or positon, there are other ways to broaden your leadership skills. Among the easiest: Reading.
What books are best for a crash-course in management? Which offer the most relevant tips and tricks? VEGAS INC asked business authorities and management consultants for their take on 10 must-reads for managers.
“The Principles of Scientific Management”
by Frederick Winslow Taylor
Harper & Brothers, 1911
This monograph is widely considered the pivotal text of contemporary managerial technique.
“It’s like the bedrock of scientific management — this is where it all started,” said Patrick Griffis, business librarian at UNLV. “The book is kind of historical, but it includes the essential principles everything is kind of based on.”
“How to Win Friends and Influence People”
by Dale Carnegie
Simon & Schuster, 1936
There are online seminars available that teach the lessons the book has been sharing for decades.
“This one has been around forever, but it seems to be getting reborn because on one hand, the content is quite standard, but on the other, it’s also quite good,” said William Marchant, a local family therapist and business consultant. “This book really offers tips and nuts and bolts that can be quite helpful.”
“The Practice of Management”
by Peter Ferdinand Drucker
Harper & Row, 1954
A pioneer in the business world credited with creating modern management techniques, “Drucker is known worldwide as an expert,” Griffis said. “This book is a seminal classic of management that is still influential and never seems outdated.”
“The Human Side of Enterprise”
by Douglas McGregor
This is a classic on human resources policies and practices.
“This is a seminal work in HR and was one of the first major works in that area of management,” Griffis said. “It focuses on managing people as opposed to just scientific business management.”
“On Becoming a Leader”
by Warren Bennis
Perseus Books, 1989
Bennis wasn’t deemed the “dean of leadership gurus” in 1996 by Forbes magazine for nothing. His work “On Becoming a Leader,” which promotes the “authentic leadership” approach, is a recommended go-to.
“Bennis is considered the world expert on leadership and is the most widely cited author on that topic,” Griffis said.
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”
by Stephen R. Covey
Free Press, 1989
When former President Bill Clinton read this book, he invited Covey to counsel him on how to incorporate the teachings into his presidency.
“What impacted me is that ‘7 Habits’ provides principles that are connected with vivid metaphors that have ... deeply resonated ... and allowed me to remember and teach to others the underlying concept,” said Hans Rawhouser, an assistant management, entrepreneurship and technology professor at UNLV.
“The New Yorker Book of Business Cartoons”
by Robert Mankoff (editor)
Bloomberg Press, 1998
The cartoons span sixty years, from 1938 to 1998, and are entertaining yet thought-provoking, according to global management consultant F. John Reh.
“This collection of cartoons about business is an enjoyable read, especially away from the office,” he said.
“Who Moved My Cheese: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life”
by Dr. Spencer Johnson
Putnam Adult, 1998
When released, this motivational title was a New York Times business best-seller and an instant classic.
“I really like this one because it’s so simple and straightforward, and helps one model one’s thinking in a logical way,” Marchant said. “It helps people free up their thinking to be more creative.”
“First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently”
by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman
Simon & Schuster, 1999
Based on Gallup interviews with more than 80,000 managers in more than 400 countries — the largest study of its kind ever undertaken — this title imparts “feet-on-the-ground, modeling behavior, and is built on practical case studies of the practices of good managers,” Griffis said.
“Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap, and Others Don’t”
by James C. Collins
William Collins, 2001
This book on corporate strategy describes how companies transition from average to extraordinary and why some companies fail to make the transition.
“Collins calls ‘Good to Great’ a prequel to his hugely successful ‘Built to Last,’ which set a large target for all of us,” Reh said. “However, that book left out critical information for those of us struggling to move our companies from good to great, as opposed to those trying to hold on to greatness. The missing piece is clearly identified in ‘Good to Great.’ ”