July 25, 2023

People Leadership Summer Reading List 2023

11 professional development books on leadership, culture, people and more to keep bringing new ideas and inspiration to your team.

For many organizations, summer is a time when the race becomes less of a sprint and more about endurance. The mad dashes that come with product launches and releases decrease in frequency as the season of holidays and vacations begins.

If you too are expecting to have some extra time on your hands this summer, or if you’re looking for a few new professional development reads, here’s a list we think you might like.

Throughout this list, you’ll find books full of ideas and inspiration on the topics of leadership, management, coaching, teamwork, people, and more. For each book, we’ve included a brief overview of the content and takeaways you can expect to learn if you decide to pick it up. Enjoy!

The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups

Daniel Coyle

You’ve probably heard of this one. In “Culture Code,” Coyle takes readers on a journey that unravels what it is that empowers high-performing teams and successful organizational cultures. There’s a ton of research and compelling anecdotes to support what Coyle shares as the key components that shape highly effective group dynamics. You’ll learn about the importance of psychological safety, the value of shared vulnerability, and the purpose in fostering a thriving team culture. You’ll also learn about the power of small gestures, what clear communication looks like, and how to model the inclusive behaviors that create trusting and collaborative environments. Coyle even incorporates the practices of successful, well-known organizations to support help you begin to cultivate a culture of excellence.

The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

Lolly Daskal

In this insightful book, Daskal delves into the must-have qualities and characteristics she believes define effective leaders. Expect to learn all about the seven archetypes of leadership styles as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each. As the book’s name suggests, you will find valuable guidance on how to identify and bridge leadership gaps, practical strategies and real-world examples, as well as a roadmap to guide your own growth (personal and professional) to help you develop your own leadership style. Add this book to your list to learn to inspire others and navigate all the complexities of leadership with greater confidence and authenticity.

They Did What?: Unbelievable Tales from the Workplace

Cornelia Gamlem, Barbara Mitchell

For so many reasons, you’ll find this to be a humorously fascinating read. Gamlem and Mitchell will take you on an eye-opening adventure through some of the most outrageous stories to come out of the workplace. The duo highlights hilariously unbelievable anecdotes, mishaps, and encounters that not only entertain but also teach you what can happen at work and prepare you to face it head-on. Between all the laughter, you can expect to gain insights into the dynamics that exist in workplace interactions, breakdowns of communication, and why maintaining professionalism is so important. The workplace is full of unexpected surprises, and this book serves as a strong reminder, offering a unique perspective on the human experience within our professional environments.

Talent Tectonics: Navigating Global Workforce Shifts, Building Resilient Organizations and Reimagining the Employee Experience

Steven T. Hunt

The way we work, and the world in which we are working, continues to change. That’s what Hunt tackles in this book offering insights into the ever-changing landscape of the global workforce. He discusses the challenges and opportunities that have come about from shifting talent dynamics, advances in technology, and the ongoing shifts in employee expectations. As you read this book, you’ll learn to successfully navigate the challenges explored by Hunt, build more resilient companies, and develop an employee experience that fosters engagement and productivity. You’ll read about remote work, DEIB, development, and tools for talent management to ultimately learn new ways to thrive in our new world of work.

An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization

Robert Kegan, Lisa Laskow Lahey, Matthew L. Miller, Andy Fleming, Deborah Helsing

Here, Kegan and Lahey introduce the concept of a “Deliberately Developmental Organization” (DDO), which is where team members are encouraged to always be learning, growing, and challenging their limitations. In doing so, and through much more, the authors offer a new perspective on organizational development and personal growth. With the help of a number of vivid case studies, you’ll explore the practices and principles that fuel organizations, including radical transparency, embracing failure as a learning opportunity, and providing support for personal development. Finally, by embracing the DDO model introduced by Kegan and Lahey, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of how to create an environment that nurtures individual growth and company success.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

Patrick Lencioni

This book offers you a captivating exploration of the common pitfalls that impede the success and effectiveness of teams. It’s also a highly entertaining story that reads like a mockumentary that you’ll find hard to put down. Lencioni highlights the five key dysfunctions — absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results — that hinder teamwork and organizational success. After reading this book, you’ll walk away knowing how these dysfunctions manifest and ways to directly address them. You’ll be provided with practical strategies and actionable insights to help you and your team members build a more cohesive, high-performing team that can overcome any challenge and achieve exceptional results.

Leadership & Culture: Why Managers Fail and Leaders Prevail: The 5 Essential Leadership Skills for Creating a Culture of Belonging that Drives Performance and Loyalty Within Your Organization

John and Katie McCann

With this book, McCann and McCann offer dedicated leaders an exploration of the skills needed to cultivate a culture of belonging and achieve exceptional results. In it, the pair draw on extensive research and examples to highlight five crucial leadership skills, including fostering psychological safety, promoting inclusion, building trust, nurturing a growth mindset, and embracing diversity. The authors’ goal was to help you learn to create workplace environments where employees feel valued, motivated, equipped, and empowered to contribute their best. So, whether you’re new to management or experienced, “Why Managers Fail and Leaders Prevail” will provide you invaluable guidance on building the team and organizational culture you need to achieve your goals.

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High

Kerry Patterson, Stephen R. Covey, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler

This transformative book will give you the necessary skills to effectively navigate all of those difficult conversations. Inside, the authors offer practical strategies for navigating high-stakes conversations in personal and professional settings, and they teach you to engage in honest dialogue, manage emotions, and maintain constructive communication no matter the situation. The book also provides a variety of tools for addressing sensitive topics, resolving conflicts, and building stronger relationships. And their real-life examples of techniques and how to use them will give you the competence and confidence to navigate the crucial conversations that arise with respect and clarity. Can you say positive outcome insurance?

Leaders Eat Last

Simon Sinek

With this book, Sinek explores leadership dynamics and the importance of cultivating supportive and trusting workplace environments. He introduced the concept of “Circle of Safety” and discusses how leaders who prioritize their team’s well-being are able to foster collaborative, loyal, and high-performing cultures. In addition, Sinek highlights the biological and psychological aspects of human behavior, offering insights into how you as a leader can inspire and motivate your team. Through the use of powerful anecdotes, advice, and tips for practical application, this leadership book will help you begin to lead with empathy, build even stronger relationships among your team members, and create a culture in which all people feel valued, supported, and safe.

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Simon Sinek

“Start with Why” explores the power of purpose-driven leadership. Sinek imparts upon the reader the importance of identifying and communicating the underlying motivations behind their decisions and actions. Throughout the book, he shares real-world and examples to illustrate how starting with why can rally and inspire team members, foster loyalty, and generate meaningful change. This guide will equip you with the tools necessary to identify your purpose, develop a compelling vision, and nurture motivation on your team.

The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You

Julie Zhuo

What does it take to become an effective manager? That’s the question Zhuo answers in this invaluable guide for anyone starting out as a manager, offering an extensive amount of practical advice and insights to help navigate the journey. Inside you’ll learn skills such as building and managing teams, providing feedback, effectively communicating, making critical decisions, and more. Zhuo also incorporates valuable anecdotes drawing on her own experience working as a manager at Facebook. This is another book that provides you a guide to develop your own managerial style. So, whether you’re transitioning from team lead or individual contributor to manager for the first time or seeking to advance your skills, this is the book for you.

What have you been reading?

Have a book you think would be a great addition to this list? Share it with us! Head over to our LinkedIn page and reply to our posting of this blog with the title.

Happy reading!

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