Books Your Newbie Business Leaders & Managers Need

Something I’ve always done whenever I have taken a new job or consulting gig has been to immerse myself in books. I want to quickly absorb knowledge, information and resources so that I can hit the ground running. It’s a coping mechanism of sorts. Journals, white papers and magazines while effective often only go surface deep. I need strategies not quick fixes, and I really want to tap into the information, resources, case studies and conversations that go beyond 3,000 words of an e-book. So in between the discovery meetings, late night emails, conference calls and leadership meetings, you’ll find my nose in a book.

Although I’m a fan of podcasts and audiobooks, I tend to prefer having a physical book in hand mostly because I prefer to write notes within the pages and dog ear them at the bottom as reminders to discuss important points with friends, colleagues and mentors or as future article inspiration points.

One of my girlfriends, Jen Terry is on pace to read 100 books this year. They are an assortment of personal and professional books. As much as I love reading, 100 books is not something I am able to do. I go through reading phases like I am now where I can read 2 books a week but I know that will change. The pace will slow and I’ll move onto another hobby, interest or shiny object that suits me.

Seven Must Read Books for New and Experienced Business Leaders

Here are seven books I’ve either read recently or am currently reading. I tend to read 2-3 books at a time depending on what strikes my interest or the business imperative that is of the most importance balancing the short versus long term actions and benefits.

  • Your First 100 Days in a New Executive Job. This book was recommended by a friend and was helpful as I evaluated my priorities as a new member of a leadership team. This book helped me focus on exploratory conversations, understanding priorities and building relationships from a business leadership point of view. While I still don’t have all the answers, this is a book I’ll be recommending to anyone who is moving into a new role and is looking to make an impact especially for the growing number of us entrepreneurs in the HR and recruiting industry who have been transitioning back to the corporate world as of late. Click here to see book. 
  • How Google Works. Google leaders give you a peek inside what makes Google unique especially when it comes to their business, hiring and culture practices. I love their views on creatives, embracing creativity and their disruptive approach that embraces failure allowing for success to shine through. This book has helped me work through some creative business process thinking as I am work through some process improvement plans and strategies specifically around hiring talent and seeing solutions and possibilities differently. Click here to see book. 
  • Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager. One professional area of opportunity that I quickly realized I needed was a brush up on was project management skills. In my consulting and entrepreneurial work, there are times when I was the only one to rely on to get the job done. I didn’t need to rely on project management just a to do list. While I can delegate like a champ, I am not as organized when it comes to big projects. A project manager recommended me this book which I’ve been reading. I also have plans to take a two day project manager class for leaders in the near future. Because who couldn’t be better at coordinating and managing projects? Click here to see book. 
  • Daring Greatly. After hearing Brene Brown speak at Indeed’s Interactive Conference just before the Memorial Day holiday in Austin, I started this book. The book contained some many nuggets of wisdom and was extremely important as I dared greatly stepping into a new corporate role after spending nearly 8 years working as a consultant and entrepreneur. I don’t have all the answers, but so much of her book resonated with me as a professional, a parent, friend, wife and mother. I saw so much of myself in the pages of Brown’s book. Click here to see book. 
  • Originals. I’m a TedX Talk binge watcher and first saw Originals author, Adam Grant there. His amazing talk lead me to pick up his book. I love how he says procrastination is a way for individuals to further process and evaluate problems. This explains me to a T. I’m always waiting until the last minute whether it’s writing a blog post, presentation deck or speech and yet I often have my point of view and outline developed completely in my head. However, what Grant calls procrastination, I call marinating because that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m letting an idea or project, sit and rest inside my head. Grant provides great insights into managing originals, communicating and how to better understand and work with them. His suggestions transition nicely for those of us who might struggle engaging our people who are different including those pesky Millennials. (I kid. I kid.) Click here to see book. 
  • Humans Are Underrated. I received this book as a review copy from the publisher, and have enjoyed how with improved technology we need people with human qualities to grow our business and lead our organizations. While the robots and artificial intelligence might be coming, it’s humans who will truly impact the larger and broader business.Click here to see book. 

Along with this reading and knowledge absorbing comes the need to work through and process all this information and strategies. That’s when I schedule coffee meetups, drinks and lunch while traveling and Skype calls with my network, mentors, friends and colleagues and talk through all these ideas swirling from this information dump I’ve subjected myself to.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.


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