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The 10 best management books to read on World Book Day

Books, or forms of books, have existed since 4000 BC and to this day remain as important as ever. Despite recent accelerations in technology, books remain the staple of most learning forms, especially research, knowledge gathering and storytelling. The learning and development space is where it is today thanks to the extensive amount of research and shared research, owing to the seemingly endless plethora of thought-provoking and ever-ground-breaking books.

To celebrate World Book Day 2023 and, ahead of new research being published from Roffey Park on effective line management, we have compiled a recommended list of 10 of the best management books to inspire your development.

The Collaborative Nature of Coaching: Basic Skills for Managers, Leaders, Life & Executive Coaches – Maura Dolan

Published recently in 2021, this book is for leaders, managers, executives and life coaches who wish to learn how to motivate, inspire and develop individuals within organisations and in both their professional and personal lives.

Maura Dolan, an associate of Roffey Park, has over 16 years of experience working as a trainer of executive coaches and as a leadership development coach who writes in an informative and accessible way and demonstrates how the collaborative nature of coaching can be transformative. This is a fantastic book for managers that are looking to incorporate and develop a coaching culture in the workplace.

Start with the Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action – Simon Sinek 

Recommended by Roffey Park’s CEO, Dr Arlene Egan, Simon Sinek’s book draws upon a wide range of real-life stories, weaving together a clear vision of what it truly takes to lead and inspire. Described as “a visionary thinker with a rare intellect,” Sinek teaches leaders and organisations how to inspire people, a key competency for any successful manager.

This is one of the best management books as it looks at why things are done. The book goes on to explain how those who start with WHY never manipulate, they inspire. And the people who follow them don’t do so because they have to; they follow because they want to. This book really allows you to understand the fundamentals of inspirational management.

Make Work Healthy - one of the best management books

Make Work Healthy – John Ryan

Endorsed by the Prime Minister of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, John Ryan, CEO of Healthy Place To Work, has published a why-to/how-to book that explores how to deliver higher organisational performance through a new approach to workforce management. The book provides organisations, leaders and managers with the knowledge, model, and methodology to radically change their current approach to deliver a healthier workplace.

This book proposes ridding of the ad-hoc tick-box, tactical and short-term focus on simply reducing absenteeism and replacing it with a more strategic, data-driven and evidence-based approach built around work capacity, sustainability and resilience. In this book, the authors explain how you can’t be a healthy organisation if your people are unhealthy, and you can’t be a healthy person if you work in an unhealthy organisation. This is up to management and leadership to transform the organisational culture.

Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders – L. David Marquet

Since Turn the Ship Around! was published in 2013, hundreds of thousands of readers have been inspired by former Navy captain David Marquet’s true story. The book is about how the Santa Fe skyrocketed from worst to first in the fleet by challenging the U.S. Navy’s traditional leader-follower approach. He had the courage to operate counterculture, reengineering the very definition of leadership accepted by the U.S. Navy for as long as it has existed, taking a huge risk in doing so.

Marquet’s message inspires the empowerment of engaged people and leadership at all levels. He promotes leaders to release energy, intellect, and passion in everyone around them. We encourage anyone who is charged with managing, leading and making a difference to read this inspirational true story.

In the Moment – Neil Mullarkey 

In The Moment - one of the best management books

Successful management is about initiative, adaptivity and responsivity. That is why we highly recommend communication expert, Neil Mullarkey’s, In the Moment. Every meeting, presentation and conversation is an opportunity to embrace your confidence and show your creative flair. With insights on collaboration, risk-taking and organisation, this book arms you with a complete repertoire of powerful communication tricks and strategies.

Teaming up with Neil, Roffey Park Institute is running an improvisation in organisations workshop: responding to complexity, change and the unpredictable. These are useful skills for leaders at any time but particularly during times of ambiguity and change when your people look to you for solutions and reassurance and you may not have all the answers. Develop the improvisation skills needed to level up your managerial game.

Fierce Conversations: Achieving success in work and in life, one conversation at a time – Susan Scott

Fierce Conversations is a book recommended by strategic leadership and organisational development expert and Roffey Park associate, Sile Walsh. In this revised edition, master teacher and leader Susan Scott gives you the tools to transform the con­versations central to your success and teaches you how to cut through the noise and clutter fiercely and honestly.

This powerful rendition of a bestselling classic will help you gain the insight and skill to make every relationship count, a crucial element to effective managing. Packed with case studies, exercises and questionnaires, Fierce Conversations is one of the best management books in showing you how to bring about real change in the workplace, and at home.

The Complexity of Consultancy – Nicholas Sarra, Karina Solsø, Chris Mowles 

In this book, one of three in a series looking at complexity and management, the expert authors bring together their experiences to provide vibrant accounts of how to lead in everyday organisational situations using practical judgement. Chapter 2 was written by Roffey Park’s Director of Operations, Graham Curtis, and explores facilitation and shame within consulting and working together to avoid challenges to our sense of self in the recognition of others.

With both theoretical grounding and practical insights from managers and consultants in leading firms, this is an ideal resource for executives and students on leadership development and talent management programmes, as well as those undertaking higher education courses in leadership and consulting.

A Very Short, Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book about Management – Ann L. Cunliffe

Recommended by Roffey Park Programme Director, Simon Coker, Ann L. Cunliffe’s bestseller has been updated to reflect current research. With the inclusion of more international examples and coverage of ethical management, new ways of working and recent successes and failures in leadership in relation to the Covid pandemic.

This intellectually stimulating and practically relevant book offers a refreshing take not only on management, but also on communication, culture, identity, and ethics. Rather than repeating well-worn ideas, this book offers a fresh perspective that can help address the daunting challenges that organisations face in the aftermath of the pandemic. This is one of the best management books for management students at all levels

How to Be an Inclusive Leader: Creating Trust, Cooperation, and Community across Differences – Jennifer Brown

Written by Internationally acclaimed diversity and inclusion expert, Jennifer Brown, this book offers the best-practice guide for becoming more inclusive in our everyday behaviours and interactions. It shares how we can all shift our perspective to support each other and to develop as allies and even accomplices for workplace inclusion.

Through storytelling techniques, this is one of the best management books in making it clear that becoming an inclusive leader is a journey. Using Jennifer Brown’s ‘The Inclusive Leader Continuum’, this book will help you shift the focus to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace, an essential for any manager.

Becoming A Top Manager: Tools and Lessons in Transitioning to General Management – Kevin Kaiser

Recommended by Roffey Park’s Head of Faculty, Ciara Halloran, Becoming A Top Manager cleverly addresses the three vital pieces of this transformation: managing the business, managing others, and, most important of all, managing oneself. You will not read a book that addresses the transition to general management in a more astute and engaging way.

By following the stories of three managers making the transition to general management, Becoming A Top Manager highlights not only the most crucial aspects of becoming a successful general manager, but also the necessary mindset changes required. The is one of the best management books for anyone making the transition from functional leader to general manager.

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