Our Favourite HR, Business and Leadership Books of 2016

best books, favourite books, business books, hr books, leadership books, productivity books

Like many of you, we here at Workology have already started building our 2017 reading lists. But we thought it would be a good idea to take a look back at some of the books that influenced us last year. From being bold, to figuring out where to focus our efforts, to learning when and how to let go, these books helped us do our do better in 2016, and to figure out what better means for us. Access our Workology Book List on Amazon.

What books did you read last year that made a difference for you? Tell us in the comments.

Our Favourite HR and Leadership Books of 2016

Daring Greatly

by Brene Brown

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. You can find the book here.

— Jessica Miller-Merrell

Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager

by Kory Kogon

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? You can find the book here.

— Jessica Miller-Merrell

TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking

by Chris Anderson

I am a speaker so this book is a treasured addition to my library.  Chris Anderson does wonders to expand the understanding and appreciation of presentation literacy in his book TED Talks. In addition to his sage advice on public speaking, he shares the tales of real people overcoming incredible obstacles by ultimately telling their own stories on the stage. You can find the book here.

— Sandra Long


by Angela Duckworth

“As much as talent counts, effort counts twice.” That passage from Grit, by Angela Duckworth, stands out among others.

For all of our societal obsession with talent, we tend to overlook effort. We tend to assume that people are “naturals,” or have an edge that we can’t compete with in certain areas. We also tend to cede ground to people we perceive to be naturally talented because we think there is no way we could measure up to the standard they set.

Grit is all about effort. Duckworth refers to this often as “deliberate practice.” Take, for example, the case of a highly admired speaker. From an outsider’s perspective, she may seem to have a natural gift for winning over an audience and being persuasive. But what we don’t see, is the hours of preparation and practice that went into her presentation. We don’t hear about all the times she failed but bounced back. What we see in the form of a polished and dynamic speaker is not purely the result of natural ability; instead, it is the result of talent AND effort.

To me, grit is all about taking our talents, strengths, and experiences and putting them to use repeatedly, learning from our mistakes, and getting better. The good news is that we can all learn to be more “gritty.” In Grit, Duckworth offers an approach for assessing your level of “grittiness,” and then provides practical steps for getting better. But it takes effort.

And let’s be honest, that’s the point. You can find the book here.

— Carlos Escobar

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

by Mark Manson

I have been following Mark Manson’s blog, off and on for some time. I say “off and on” because I sometimes abruptly stop following him when his words, frequently, rubs me the wrong way. But that’s what happens when a writer’s goal is to cut through the bullshit to offer nontraditional self-help, and this book is no different.

The whole point of not giving a f*uck isn’t really not caring about anything at all – it’s not nearly as nihilistic as it sounds. Rather, it’s about choosing which f*cks to give – and being ruthless about that process. As all my jobs consist of knowledge work, prioritization is absolutely necessary to achieve meaningful work. Manson cuts through the bullshit to remind us of that and even offers some cool, new insights along the way. You can find the book here.

— Jenna Ledford

Overwhelmed: How to Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time

by Brigid Schulte

An award-winning journalist and mother, Schulte talks about the idea of the good life in relation to workforce policy and politics. Her particular focus is on family leave policies and she dives right into addressing gendered labor and America’s antiquated notions about productive work. Her perspective ranges from the deeply personal to the global – cross-comparing a variety of attitudes and experiences. She sinks her teeth into things only the way a great journalist can. You can find the book here.

— Jenna Ledford

Access the Amazon list of these books by clicking here. No affiliate links just making it easy for you to order our recommendations. 

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Megan Purdy

Former recruiter, HR pro and Workology editor. Comics, cheese and political economy.

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