14 leadership books to add to your HR reading list



Books can be a great way to gain new knowledge about leadership and other human resources issues. The books can help you think about new problems and discover innovative ways to tackle problems you already see in your organization. This idea can have a significant impact on how you approach work.

For this reason, we asked the members of the Forbes Human Resources Council for book recommendations that have had a positive impact on the way they approach their work. Consider adding some of these titles to your playlist in the near future.

All photos courtesy of Forbes Council members.

1. good to excellent

Jim Collins’ research and study of successful businesses over a 30 year period resulted in the book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t and there are key lessons and practices which are still current. From the five levels of leadership, to the hedgehog concept (which helps define a company’s purpose), to feedback with unvarnished truth, and finally getting the right people on the bus – and then figuring out how they can contribute – lessons and skills are backed by years of research and, with discipline, are easy to practice. It’s about how to manage talent, how to develop a central purpose, and how leaders need to demonstrate humility and an unwavering commitment to business success. – Graham Cat, Support partners

2. Paramount Leadership

Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman illustrates how resonant leaders create positivity and dissonant leaders create negativity. It also shows how the brain’s limbic system and the therefore “primal” prefrontal cortex manage people’s emotions and shows how leaders strong in emotional intelligence derive positive emotions by understanding the science of the brain. My copy is well worn and often referenced! – Kellie Graham SHRM-SCP, SPHR, Supplement children’s health

3. Come out of nothing

This book taught me the importance of taking risks, on people and opportunities but, above all, on myself. The story of Byron Pitts inspires you to pursue everything you’ve ever wanted and helps you break down (or at least push aside) all the obstacles in your way because it reminds us that most obstacles are the ones we find ourselves in. we dress ourselves. When you’re scared or unsure of yourself, trust your instincts and “don’t move on.” – Lotus Yon, NCH

4. How are you going to measure your life?

One book that was a must for me was How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton M. Christensen. The premise that success is important, but success won’t be the measure of your life really resonated with me and is a must read for all leaders. As an HR professional, I believe that being able to understand that we are having a season of our lives at work will help us with very critical decisions that could help change someone’s life – whether in recruitment where we help someone make a decision that can alter their future, or even when we guide employees through their transition out of the company. Ultimately, the deepest source of joy in our lives goes beyond just thriving in a career, but thriving in life. It offers an excellent perspective for anyone in our profession. – Thomas A.J., Auction.com

5. Manage with the heart

Managing from the Heart by Hyler Bracey and Jack Rosenblum not only impacted the way I managed both teams and my HR role, but also became a book I gifted to others. Reading, understanding and putting into practice the five principles of the book allowed me to better manage conflicts, to listen to others, to speak honestly even when it was not easy, to learn to see the intentions of others and to be a better coach for those who looked to me for leadership. – Sandy Wilson, FinTek Consulting

6. Leading the Emerging Future

It is an insightful and thought-provoking book that tackles some of the most systemic issues facing organizations and societies today. It explains how leaders must change the inner place from which they operate: abandon past practices and co-create the emerging future jointly with those they lead. In today’s age of disruption, the book reinforces the importance of systems thinking and challenges leaders and changemakers to operate with greater awareness and consciousness. It’s one of my favorites for its emphasis on individual and collective transformation for the greater good of all. – Ekta Vyas, Ph.D., Stanford Children’s Health

seven. How to Win Friends and Influence People

Although it was published in 1936, this book is still one of the most important and relevant books for HR managers (or any other leader, for that matter). The key lessons inside are crucial reminders on how to use emotional intelligence to drive change and influence people. HR involves so much change management, and a big part of that is winning people over to new organizational strategies and initiatives. – Heather Doshay, Rainforest QA

8. Master civility

Mastering Civility: A Manifesto For The Workplace by Christine Porath demonstrates with research and data the “cost” to organizations when people are not courteous to one another. This book is a must read if you want strategies for creating a more human workforce that improves relationships to foster a more productive workforce that leads to higher engagement and ultimately higher profitability. high for an organization. One of my favorite quotes in the book is: “A crucial measure of our success in life is how we treat each other every day of our lives,” by PM Forni. – Sherry Martin

9. No excuses!

I love this book. Brian Tracy teaches you how to succeed in all aspects of your life. You have the ability to achieve success through self-discipline and goal setting. This book helps you identify a plan to achieve your goals and find no excuses. It is your responsibility to take action and be motivated every day. This book will inspire you to make a plan to achieve your professional and personal goals. – Debi Bliazis, Real Estate Champions School

ten. Know to act

I would recommend Knowledge for Action by Chris Argyris. He very cleverly identifies productive and counterproductive norms and behaviors in organizations, and explains why people are unable to learn and unlearn past behaviors. Furthermore, it describes the consequences of these behaviors and what to do about them in the context of getting the best out of people. – Marc Lascola, ON THE BRAND

11. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

This book provides an approach to solving personal and professional problems. In the world of HR, not all employee issues stem from work issues and HR managers need to know how to address both. The book explains in detail how to adapt to change and how to take advantage of the opportunities created by this change. This book will make you feel “on the right track”. – Tiffany Servais, Scott’s Market

12. Who moved my cheese?

Who moved my cheese? is a must that I regularly refer to. It’s all in the name. None of us have, in fact, the right to claim ownership of “our” cheese. So there is a constant need to move and adapt to new realities, while doing our reasonable best to influence them. With today’s corporate focus on change management, the principles in this book apply more strongly than ever. – Mirande Valbrune

13. The checklist manifesto

This book focuses on how the medical profession relies on checklists for consistency and to avoid costly mistakes. Checklists can be used in several areas of HR, for example, for monitoring compliance in the recruitment process, for internal audits, for managing the HR rhythm of activities, programs, etc. – Ouchma Mehta, Voicemail Technologies

14. non-violent communication

Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D. is by far one of the best books I’ve read as a business owner, as well as a husband and father. This book is not a new title, but for me it does a lot better than other books at unveiling the key principles and practices of exceptional communication. It is also the first book that Satya Nadella has asked his management team to read, which is significant. – Ben Peterson, BambooHR

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