Three Books every Manager should Read

March 1, 2018

To celebrate World Book Day 2018, Claire shares three books every manager MUST read.  

By Claire Morley-Jones

So, whilst preparing my two four-year olds for the shenanigans of World Book Day, I decided that I should use the auspices of such an event to recommend some books for you all!  Nope, not the sort of Fairy Tales and Julia Donaldson’s you’ll be expecting, but the business books that- after 20 years of reading everything from Barbarians at the Gate to The Lean Startup – I still refer back to and are guided by! (Although having said that I would also highly recommend The Highway Rat if you have kids!)

1. Leading at a Higher Level, by Ken Blanchard

This is one of the first books I read about leadership with which I agreed (!), back in 2006, the Christmas after I started HR180. It’s principally about how to get the best out of your colleagues and become a great leader yourself.

It talks about servant leadership and about how leaders are not there to “lord” it over everyone else but to remove barriers, ensure success, engage potential.  Whilst the later book, Triple Crown Leadership written by the two Stephen Covey’s breaks it down further, Ken Blanchard was among the first to explain that business needs to be the provider of choice for customers, the employer of choice for employees and the investment of choice for investors. 

He explains in detail how this can achieved through compelling vision, values, shared and open communication, create raving fans and being a servant leader.

2. True North, by Bill George

This book is filled with case studies that centre around how someone defines themselves and finds their true ‘calling’, as oppose to being a ‘born’ a leader. 

Whilst we normally use that word in relation to clergy, this is more about understanding what you want your lifetimes achievement to be and then selling that vision to others in a way that resonates with them!  Bill explains that the five areas to develop as a leader are:

  • Self Awareness
  • Defining your Values
  • Finding ‘sweet spots’ in your capabilities
  • Building an amazing support team
  • Leading an integrated life


He explains that leaders most successfully find their True North by learning and reframing experiences to build a fundamental set of values that govern their entire life.  The stories, (whilst from CEO’s in very large Corporates, Starbucks, eBay etc), are human, engaging and honest. The central premise of the book is that your ‘True North’ can never be replicated or engineered, it must be discovered.

3. Leaders Eat Last, by Simon Sinek

This book explores how leaders can inspire both co-operation and change, leading to an environment where people actually look forward to going into work. They do so because their leaders create an environment of such trust that each and every person feels valued, supported and there for each other – not just for the money.  This isn’t just a nice story book, but a practical guide to support people in becoming better leaders using real world examples – plus some science thrown in about how our body chemistry works!

THE best quote from the book?

‘Nothing of real value on this earth was built by one person without the help of others’. 

If you can’t be bothered to read from cover to cover, here’s a Ted Talk of him explaining some of the key concepts.

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