Part of growing your business is growing yourself. Educating yourself on the latest trends, historical insight, and learning from the greats is one of the best ways to grow your business. We take education seriously around here by encouraging our team to read one book each month and discussing how those concepts can be applied and implemented both personally and professionally. If you’re looking for your next business book club read, here are a few of our favorites from 2020.
5 Disfunction’s of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
Written as a fictional tale turned non-fiction business book, the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team is a gem from Patrick Lencioni. The tale with a fable of a woman who, as CEO of a struggling Silicon Valley firm, took control of a dysfunctional executive committee and helped its members succeed as a team. From here, Lencioni gives step-by-step guidance for overcoming the human behavioral issues that ruin teamwork.
- Spoiler Alert: The five dysfunctions discussed are absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results. Lencioni breaks each of these down in a pyramid style, similar to Maslow’s Heirarchy of needs to clearly explain why your team isn’t functioning as well as it could.
It’s an easy, entertaining, and quick read filled to the brim with useful information. Lencioni is no stranger to business reads, previous titles include The Five Temptations of a CEO and Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive. He presents business topics in a way that is captivating and entertaining, not dry or boring. At the end of the book, he even provides a questionnaire and applicable exercises to help create real change in your company. Patrick Lencioni is president of his own management consulting firm.
As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
If you’re interested in seeing how you may be standing in your own way and how to overcome your own negative thought patterns, this is the book for you. James Allen is one of the pioneers of self-help. He was born in 1864, well before self-help was a thing. Back then, he was known as a British philosopher who wrote inspirational books and poetry.
He writes about the effects of our own thoughts and how that can change our body, health, purpose, achievement, growth, and success. Today, As a Man Thinketh is still his most popular title. We love this classic work that has been in print for well over 120 years. It is truly an amazing source of wisdom and peace, and serves as the grandfather of many more modern self-help authors and speakers.
Outside In by Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine
If there was a textbook on customer service, this would be it. Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine beautifully carve 14 years of research into one succinct roadmap for nailing customer service. As a Man Thinketh, explains the innovations that brought billions of investments to Fidelity while other companies suffered. It shows how a misunderstanding prevented Home Depot from achieving its true potential. It dives into what makes the Mayo Clinic so special.
Using real-world examples makes this a relatable resource to customer experience and explains how to drive your business forward. Steve Forbes, Editor-in-Chief of Forbes said, “This eye-opener gives you a comprehensive, need-to-know look at how smart companies achieve sustainable success in dealing with customers. Hint: It involves the entire organization, not just those on the ‘front lines.’ The GPS-like guidance provided here is invaluable.”
We love this book because it’s applicable to everyone. Some business books are only applicable to leaders or executive-level minds, but Outside-In is something that any level of business can benefit from. It shows us how each piece fits together and how each one is essential to scaling your business.
Scaling Up by Verne Harnish
If you’re looking for a book that the entire team can benefit from reading, this is it. Scaling Up is a revision of the business classic, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits. When it was released over 10 years ago, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits soared in popularity. The Rockefeller Habits Checklists is used by more than 40,000 firms to scale their companies successfully. Now, Scaling Habits is Mastering the Rockefeller Habits 2.0 includes everything you loved about the first version, in a more succinct, applicable, and updated format.
As winner of 8 major international book awards and winner of the Readers’ Favorite International Book Award for Non-Fiction Business, this is a clear winner. This book is written for everyone from frontline employees to senior executives. It is designed to get your entire team aligned in contributing to the growth of a firm.
- Spoiler Alert: The book focuses on four main areas – People, strategy, execution, and cash. It also includes several one-page tools including the updated One-Page Strategic Plan and the original Rockefeller Habits Checklist.
If you haven’t read the original Rockefeller Habits book, don’t bother. This one is bigger and better than ever. It includes everything from the first version, but so much more. Verne Harnish is founder of the world-renowned Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), founder and CEO of Scaling Up, a global executive education and coaching company. She is also a private investor in many scale-ups.
Switch (how to change things when change is hard) by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Whether your looking to pivot your business, drop some weight, or make a major move – Switch is all about the study of change. This is a compelling, story-driven narrative, which makes the text more compelling to read than other research-heavy books. Chip and Dan Heath are brothers and the best-selling authors of Made to Stick. In Switch, they sift through decades of research in psychology, sociology, and other fields to study why change is so hard and how we can make it easier to get the results we want.
“In our research, we studied people trying to make difficult changes: People fighting to lose weight and keep it off. Managers trying to overhaul an entrenched bureaucracy. Activists combatting seemingly intractable problems such as child malnutrition. They succeeded–and, to our surprise, we found striking similarities in the strategies they used. They seemed to share a similar game plan. We wanted, in Switch, to make that game plan available to everyone, in hopes that we could show people how to make the hard changes in life a little bit easier.” – Chip and Dan Heath
We loved this book because it provides insight to changing your business, but also to motivating family members to embrace change. The authors use relatable examples in all areas of life from the cycle of domestic abuse to rebranding Target. It’s entertaining and educational, which makes it a must-read on our business bookshelf
The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly
This is the ultimate mash-up in self-help and business books. The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly begins with this important thought, “…a company can only become the-best-version-of-itself to the extent that its employees are becoming better-versions-of-themselves.”
In an entertaining prose, a fictional company created by Kelly grapples with real-world problems every business faces. As the managers discover the secret to disengagement, turnover, and motivation, Kelly shares his insight and teaches valuable lessons. He looks at the connection between personal dreams and professional achievement at work to see how one affects the other. Matthew Kelly is the New York Times bestselling author of The Rhythm of Life…and twenty other books that have sold more than 15 million copies.
We love this one because sometimes we forget what it’s like to dream. We get caught up in just finishing the to-do list of the day that we fail to recognize what we actually want. When we find a book that aligns with our views of positivity actually transforming business, we can’t recommend it enough.
Built To Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras
If you’ve never read a busines book before, this is a good one to start with. James Collins is a household name in both the business world. He researches why some companies work and other don’t. In Built to Last, Collins and Porras look at 18 truly exceptional and long-lasting companies. They look at their beginnings, growth and success in direct comparison to one of its top competitors.
The only question the authors ask is, “What makes the truly exceptional companies different from the comparison companies and what were the common practices these enduringly great companies followed throughout their history?” They answer this question with hundreds of examples from companies like General Electric, Wal-Mart, Walt Disney and Hewlett-Packard and Boeing.
We love this book because it’s an inspiration to executives and entrepreneurs everywhere. It’s filled with relatable information and provide practice concepts that can be applied to start-ups and multi-national corporations alike.