Why Do People Leave Companies? Bad Management. 30 Books to Become a Better Manager

The defining metric for bad managers? Turnover. In over 50% of voluntary turnover, bad management gets cited. And yet companies continue to promote unstable management while complaining about turnover and dry recruiting pipelines. It’s time to make sure managers are continuously improving.

On the other hand, assuming there’s some level of management talent. What’s the difference between a manager and a CEO? Selfless leadership. In his book, Give and Take, Adam Grant finds givers are both at the top and bottom of any organization. The people at the top seem to have better boundaries on giving.

As you progress from managing oneself to managing a team to managing managers to managing an organization, there’s a different skill to master. There’s a clear difference between a VP and a CEO. The CEO has mastered all management levels and now looks to manage the organization 20 years into the future. The selection of books aims to progress from managing oneself to what it might take to manage today’s organization with a decade’s view forward.

Managing a Team of One

Managing Oneself

You must be your own chief executive officer. That means it’s up to you to carve out your place in the world and know when to change course. And it’s up to you to keep yourself engaged and productive during a career that may span some 50 years. In Managing Oneself, Peter Drucker explains how to do it. The keys: Cultivate a deep understanding of yourself by identifying your most valuable strengths and most dangerous weaknesses; Articulate how you learn and work with others and what your most deeply held values are; and Describe the type of work environment where you can make the greatest contribution. Only when you operate with a combination of your strengths and self-knowledge can you achieve true and lasting excellence. Managing Oneself identifies the probing questions you need to ask to gain the insights essential for taking charge of your career.

The Road to Character

The Road to Character focuses on the deeper values that should inform our lives. Responding to what he calls the culture of the Big Me which emphasizes external success Brooks challenges us and himself to rebalance the scales between our resume virtues achieving wealth fame and status and our eulogy virtues those that exist at the core of our being kindness bravery honesty or faithfulness focusing on what kind of relationships we have formed. Looking to some of the world s greatest thinkers and inspiring leaders Brooks explores how through internal struggle and a sense of their own limitations they have built a strong inner character.

On Managing Yourself

We’ve combed through hundreds of Harvard Business Review articles to select the most important ones to help you maximize yourself. HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Managing Yourself will inspire you to:

  • Stay engaged throughout your 50+-year work life
  • Tap into your deepest values
  • Solicit candid feedback
  • Replenish physical and mental energy
  • Balance work, home, community, and self
  • Spread positive energy throughout your organization
  • Rebound from tough times
  • Decrease distractibility and frenzy
  • Delegate and develop employees’ initiative

The Way of the Champion: Lessons from Sun Tzu’s The art of War and other Tao Wisdom for Sports & life

Authors Jerry Lynch and Chungliang Al Huang, using lessons from the The Art of War, as well as other ancient Taoist books such as the I Ching and Tao Te Ching, teach readers to develop the capacities and qualities that make a champion-such as high self-esteem, courage, fortitude, determination, perseverance, tenacity, self-awareness, integrity, the ability to take risks, and the ability to learn from failure.

The emphasis on self-awareness, tactical positioning, and strategic advantage means that practitioners win through inner growth and self-improvement-giving them a universal competitive edge.

Managing a Team

The New One Minute Manager

In their concise, easy-to-read story, they teach readers three very practical secrets about leading others—and explain why these techniques continue to work so well.

As compelling today as the original was thirty years ago, this classic parable of a young man looking for an effective manager is more relevant and useful than ever.

Who: The A Method for Hiring

The average hiring mistake costs a company $1.5 million or more a year and countless wasted hours. This statistic becomes even more startling when you consider that the typical hiring success rate of managers is only 50 percent.

The silver lining is that “who” problems are easily preventable. Based on more than 1,300 hours of interviews with more than 20 billionaires and 300 CEOs, Who presents Smart and Street’s A Method for Hiring. Refined through the largest research study of its kind ever undertaken, the A Method stresses fundamental elements that anyone can implement–and it has a 90 percent success rate.

Whether you’re a member of a board of directors looking for a new CEO, the owner of a small business searching for the right people to make your company grow, or a parent in need of a new babysitter, it’s all about Who.

Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead

From the visionary head of Google s innovative People Operations a groundbreaking inquiry into the philosophy of work and a blueprint for attracting the most spectacular talent to your business and ensuring the best and brightest succeed.

Bock takes us inside one of history s most explosively successful businesses to reveal why Google is consistently rated one of the best places to work in the world distilling 15 years of intensive worker R&D into delightfully counterintuitive principles that are easy to put into action whether you’re a team of one or a team of thousands. Cleaving the knot of conventional management some lessons from WORK RULES include: Take away managers power over employees; Learn from your best employees and your worst; Only hire people who are smarter than you are no matter how long it takes to find them.

Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable

Fore more than two decades, legendary trainer Tim Grover has taken the greats—Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, and dozens more—and made them greater. Now, for the first time ever, he reveals what it takes to get those results, showing you how to be relentless and achieve whatever you desire.

Direct, blunt, and brutally honest, Grover breaks down what it takes to be unstoppable: you keep going when everyone else is giving up, you thrive under pressure, you never let your emotions make you weak. In “The Relentless 13,” he details the essential traits shared by the most intense competitors and achievers in sports, business, and all walks of life. Relentless shows you how to trust your instincts and get in the Zone; how to control and adapt to any situation; how to find your opponent’s weakness and attack. Grover gives you the same advice he gives his world-class clients—“don’t think”—and shows you that anything is possible

Principles: Life and Work 

In Principles, Dalio shares what he’s learned over the course of his remarkable career. He argues that life, management, economics, and investing can all be systemized into rules and understood like machines. The book’s hundreds of practical lessons, which are built around his cornerstones of “radical truth” and “radical transparency,” include Dalio laying out the most effective ways for individuals and organizations to make decisions, approach challenges, and build strong teams. He also describes the innovative tools the firm uses to bring an idea meritocracy to life, such as creating “baseball cards” for all employees that distill their strengths and weaknesses, and employing computerized decision-making systems to make believability-weighted decisions

12: The Elements of Great Managing

12 follows great managers as they harness employee engagement to turn around a failing call center, save a struggling hotel, improve patient care in a hospital, maintain production through power outages, and successfully face a host of other challenges in settings around the world.

The authors weave Gallup insights from 1999 to 2006 with discoveries in the fields of neuroscience, game theory, psychology, sociology, and economics.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Kathryn Petersen, Decision Tech’s CEO, faces the ultimate leadership crisis: Uniting a team in such disarray that it threatens to bring down the entire company. Will she succeed? Will she be fired? Will the company fail? Lencioni’s utterly gripping tale serves as a timeless reminder that leadership requires as much courage as it does insight.

Throughout the story, Lencioni reveals the five dysfunctions which go to the very heart of why teams even the best ones-often struggle. He outlines a powerful model and actionable steps that can be used to overcome these common hurdles and build a cohesive, effective team. Just as with his other books, Lencioni has written a compelling fable with a powerful yet deceptively simple message for all those who strive to be exceptional team leaders.

First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently

What separates the greatest managers from all the rest? They actually have vastly different styles and backgrounds. Yet despite their differences, great managers share one common trait: They don’t hesitate to break virtually every rule held sacred by conventional wisdom. They don’t believe that, with enough training, a person can achieve anything he sets his mind to. They don’t try to help people overcome their weaknesses. And, yes, they even play favorites.

In this longtime management bestseller, Gallup presents the remarkable findings of its massive in-depth study of great managers. Some were in leadership positions. Others were front-line supervisors. Some were in Fortune 500 companies; others were key players in small, entrepreneurial firms. Whatever their circumstances, the managers who ultimately became the focus of Gallup’s research were those who excelled at turning each individual employee’s talent into high performance.

Gallup has found that the front-line manager is the key to attracting and retaining talented employees. This book explains how the best managers select an employee for talent rather than for skills or experience, set expectations, build on each person’s unique strengths rather than trying to fix his or her weaknesses, and get the best performance out of their teams.

Managing Managers

Ego Free Leadership: Ending the Unconscious Habits that Hijack Your Business & Ego is the Enemy

Take your ego out of the equation, and watch your company thrive! ”I’ve got a solution,” Encore’s CFO tells Brandon, ”but it’s unorthodox.” It’s 2005 and Brandon Black has just been promoted to CEO of Encore Capital, a company struggling to navigate an increasingly difficult business environment. Faced with a rapidly declining stock price and low workplace morale, Brandon knows he needs change—and fast. Following his CFO’s advice, he and his executive team start working with Learning as Leadership (LaL) and its president, Shayne Hughes. Through their partnership, Encore’s executive team learns to root out the unproductive ego habits that undermine collaboration and performance.

As they instill these more effective behaviors throughout the organization, Encore begins to solve problems collectively, prioritize resources without infighting, and focus on the initiatives with the greatest strategic value. When the financial crisis of 2008-09 forces 90 percent of its competitors out of business, Encore thrives, with its profits increasing by 300 percent and its stock price by 1200 percent. Told from two lively first-person perspectives, Ego Free Leadership brings readers along for Encore’s incredible success story. They’ll see a CEO overcome his unconscious resistance to modeling the change he wants in his team and discover a time-tested roadmap for eliminating the destructive effects of the ego in teams and organizations.

Jack: Straight from the Gut

They called him Neutron Jack. They called him the world’s toughest boss. And then Fortune called him “The Manager of the Century.” In his twenty-year career at the helm of General Electric, Jack Welch defied conventional wisdom and turned an aging behemoth of a corporation into a lean, mean engine of growth and corporate innovation. In this remarkable autobiography-a classic business book and runaway New York Times bestseller now updated with a new afterword by the author-Jack Welch takes us on the rough-and-tumble ride that has been his remarkable life. From his working-class childhood to his early days in G.E. Plastics to his life at the top of the world’s most successful company, Welch tells his intensely personal story with his well-known fire and candor. And although it chronicles billion-dollar deals and high-stakes corporate standoffs, Jack is ultimately a story about people-from a man who based his career on demanding only the best from others and from himself.

What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School: Notes from a Street-smart Executive

To this day, McCormack’s business classic remains a must-read for executives and managers at every level, featuring straight-talking advice you’ll never hear in business school. Relating his proven method of “applied people sense” in key chapters on sales, negotiation, reading others and yourself, and executive time management, McCormack presents powerful real-world guidance on

The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement

Written in a fast-paced thriller style, The Goal is the gripping novel which is transforming management thinking throughout the Western world. The author has been described by Fortune as a ‘guru to industry’ and by Businessweek as a ‘genius’. It is a book to recommend to your friends in industry – even to your bosses – but not to your competitors.

Alex Rogo is a harried plant manager working ever more desperately to try and improve performance. His factory is rapidly heading for disaster. So is his marriage. He has ninety days to save his plant – or it will be closed by corporate HQ, with hundreds of job losses. It takes a chance meeting with a colleague from student days – Jonah – to help him break out of conventional ways of thinking to see what needs to be done.

The story of Alex’s fight to save his plant is more than compulsive reading. It contains a serious message for all managers in industry and explains the ideas which underline the Theory of Constraints (TOC) developed by Eli Goldratt.

High Output Management

This is a user-friendly guide to the art and science of management from Andrew S. Grove, the president of America’s leading manufacturer of computer chips. Groves recommendations are equally appropriate for sales managers, accountants, consultants, and teachers–anyone whose job entails getting a group of people to produce something of value. Adapting the innovations that have made Intel one of America’s most successful corporations, High Output Management teaches you: what techniques and indicators you can use to make even corporate recruiting as precise and measurable as manufacturing; how to turn your subordinates and coworkers into members of highly productive team; how to motivate that team to attain peak performance every time.  Combining conceptual elegance with a practical understanding of the real-life scenarios that managers encounter every day, High Output Management is one of those rare books that have the power to revolutionize the way we work.

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful

What’s holding you back? Your hard work is paying off. You are doing well in your field. But there is something standing between you and the next level of achievement. Perhaps one small flaw–a behavior you barely even recognize–is the only thing that’s keeping you from where you want to be.

What is the solution? The Harvard Business Review asked Goldsmith, “What is the most common problem faced by the executives that you coach?” Inside, he answers this question by discussing not only the key beliefs of successful leaders, but also the behaviors that hold them back. He addresses the fundamental problems that often come with success–and offers ways to attack these problems. Goldsmith outlines twenty habits commonly found in the corporate environment and provides a systematic approach to helping you achieve a positive change in behavior.

The Education of a Coach

Bill Belichick’s thirty-one years in the NFL have been marked by amazing success–most recently with the New England Patriots. In this groundbreaking book, The Education of a Coach, David Halberstam explores the nuances of both the game and the man behind it. He uncovers what makes Bill Belichick tick both on and off the field.

The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever

In Michael Bungay Stanier’s The Coaching Habit, coaching becomes a regular, informal part of your day so managers and their teams can work less hard and have more impact.

Drawing on years of experience training more than 10,000 busy managers from around the globe in practical, everyday coaching skills, Bungay Stanier reveals how to unlock your peoples’ potential. He unpacks seven essential coaching questions to demonstrate how–by saying less and asking more–you can develop coaching methods that produce great results.

A fresh innovative take on the traditional how-to manual, the book combines insider information with research based in neuroscience and behavioral economics, together with interactive training tools to turn practical advice into practiced habits. Witty and conversational, The Coaching Habit takes your work–and your workplace–from good to great.

Managing an Organization

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

Throughout the turbulent 1850s, each had energetically sought the presidency as the conflict over slavery was leading inexorably to secession and civil war. That Lincoln succeeded, Goodwin demonstrates, was the result of a character that had been forged by experiences that raised him above his more privileged and accomplished rivals. He won because he possessed an extraordinary ability to put himself in the place of other men, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires.

It was this capacity that enabled Lincoln as president to bring his disgruntled opponents together, create the most unusual cabinet in history, and marshal their talents to the task of preserving the Union and winning the war.

We view the long, horrifying struggle from the vantage of the White House as Lincoln copes with incompetent generals, hostile congressmen, and his raucous cabinet. He overcomes these obstacles by winning the respect of his former competitors, and in the case of Seward, finds a loyal and crucial friend to see him through.

Exponential Organizations: Why new organizations are ten times better, faster, and cheaper than yours (and what to do about it)

In business, performance is key. In performance, how you organize can be the key to growth. In the past five years, the business world has seen the birth of a new breed of company―the Exponential Organization―that has revolutionized how a company can accelerate its growth by using technology. An ExO can eliminate the incremental, linear way traditional companies get bigger, leveraging assets like community, big data, algorithms, and new technology into achieving performance benchmarks ten times better than its peers.

Three luminaries of the business world―Salim Ismail, Yuri van Geest, and Mike Malone―have researched this phenomenon and documented ten characteristics of Exponential Organizations. Here, in Exponential Organizations, they walk the reader through how any company, from a startup to a multi-national, can become an ExO, streamline its performance, and grow to the next level.

Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street

What do the 350 million Ford Motor Company disaster known as the Edsel the fast and incredible rise of Xerox and the unbelievable scandals at General Electric and Texas Gulf Sulphur have in common? Each is an example of how an iconic company was defined by a particular moment of fame or notoriety these notable and fascinating accounts are as relevant today to understanding the intricacies of corporate life as they were when the events happened Stories about Wall Street are infused with drama and adventure and reveal the machinations and volatile nature of the world of finance.

The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization

An MIT Professor’s pathbreaking book on building  “learning organizations” — corporations that overcome inherent obstacles to learning and develop dynamic ways to pinpoint the threats that face them and to recognize new opportunities. Not only  is the learning organization a new source of  competitive advantage, it also offers a marvelously  empowering approach to work, one which promises that,  as Archimedes put it, “with a lever long  enough… single-handed I can move the world.”

Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success 

During his storied career as head coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, Phil Jackson won more championships than any coach in the history of professional sports. Even more important, he succeeded in never wavering from coaching his way, from a place of deep values. Jackson was tagged as the “Zen master” half in jest by sportswriters, but the nickname speaks to an important truth: this is a coach who inspired, not goaded; who led by awakening and challenging the better angels of his players’ nature, not their egos, fear, or greed.

This is the story of a preacher’s kid from North Dakota who grew up to be one of the most innovative leaders of our time. In his quest to reinvent himself, Jackson explored everything from humanistic psychology and Native American philosophy to Zen meditation. In the process, he developed a new approach to leadership based on freedom, authenticity, and selfless teamwork that turned the hypercompetitive world of professional sports on its head.

The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive

Lencioni’s focus is on a leader’s crucial role in building a healthy organization–an often overlooked but essential element of business life that is the linchpin of sustained success. Readers are treated to a story of corporate intrigue as the frustrated head of one consulting firm faces a leadership challenge so great that it threatens to topple his company, his career, and everything he holds true about leadership itself. In the story’s telling, Lencioni helps his readers understand the disarming simplicity and power of creating organizational health, and reveals four key disciplines that they can follow to achieve it.

The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership

Bill Walsh is a towering figure in the history of the NFL. His advanced leadership transformed the San Francisco 49ers from the worst franchise in sports to a legendary dynasty. In the process, he changed the way football is played.

Bill Walsh taught that the requirements of successful leadership are the same whether you run an NFL franchise, a fortune 500 company, or a hardware store with 12 employees. These final words of ‘wisdom by Walsh’ will inspire, inform, and enlighten leaders in all professions.

The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done

For decades, Peter F. Drucker was widely regarded as “the dean of this country’s business and management philosophers” (Wall Street Journal). In this concise and brilliant work, he looks to the most influential position in management—the executive.

The measure of the executive, Drucker reminds us, is the ability to “get the right things done.” This usually involves doing what other people have overlooked as well as avoiding what is unproductive. Intelligence, imagination, and knowledge may all be wasted in an executive job without the acquired habits of mind that mold them into results.

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business

There is a competitive advantage out there, arguably more powerful than any other. Is it superior strategy? Faster innovation? Smarter employees? No, New York Times best-selling author, Patrick Lencioni, argues that the seminal difference between successful companies and mediocre ones has little to do with what they know and how smart they are and more to do with how healthy they are. In this book, Lencioni brings together his vast experience and many of the themes cultivated in his other best-selling books and delivers a first: a cohesive and comprehensive exploration of the unique advantage organizational health provides.

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

A poor boy abandoned by his father–twice–grew up alone, joins the crew to pay for school, learns about growing and syncing as a team from working on trees to win the Berlin Olympics. It’s about taking the ordinary kids and creating an extraordinary team. Its a story capturing what managers to CEOs need to understand about building a high performing team.

The coach tied moving his crew around from seat to seat and boat to boat. One day the crew would sync, the next it wouldn’t. It took a while to find the right combination of people, seat assignments and coxswain. Once the right people are sitting in the right seats and have their minds in the boat, explosive–almost effortless–power from each stroke is the result. Get the right people in the boat. Get the wrong people out of the boat. Finally, get the people in the boat to keep their mind in the boat.




This is part of a Real World MBA curriculum. Other parts of the curriculum include ManagementDecision MakingStartupsStrategyCareer SuccessFinanceDealing with PeopleCommunicatingEthicsBiographies, and Marketing.