11 Books Every CEO Should Read

By Jessica Wishart

11 Books Every CEO should read

In their open letter to business leaders, Amy Edmondson (Harvard Business School) and Bror Saxberg 11 Books Every CEO should read(learning engineer at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative), ask CEOs to put a renewed focus on continuous learning. They argue that with the rise of AI and robotics, there are massive changes coming for businesses and business leaders; "We write this letter not to criticize but to make the case for why a new emphasis on lifelong learning is going to become increasingly central to your job: maximizing the value and impact of your organization. … Workers, managers, and executives need to keep up with the machines and be able to interpret their results.”  

Now’s a great time to commit to raising your leadership capability and expanding your emphasis on learning throughout your company. Where to start? I’ve asked our team of expert consultants to share their top book recommendations for CEOs. 

11 Books Every CEO Should Read

The Inside Advantage: The Strategy that Unlocks the Hidden Growth in Your Business, by Robert Bloom 

This is a book that helps companies find their inner strength to help unlock growth doing what your company is already great at. Bloom provides a four-step framework in his Growth Discovery process for businesses to help unlock their full potential to help them reach their growth goals. - Ted Skinner

Topgrading: The Proven Hiring and Promoting Method That Turbocharges Company Performance, by Bradford Smart 

Topgrading is my go-to recommendation for all organizations that are struggling with finding and retaining the right talent. It also prompts thinking around Core Values and Core Purpose. It's imperative for a company to know who they are first before they can build a team that reflects and reinforces their purpose and values. Topgrading also is a practical guide for interviewing, which is a skill that managers at all levels need to master. - Tiffany Chepul

The Monk and the Riddle: The Art of Creating a Life While Making a Living, by Randy Komisar

I often recommend this book about living your passionate life and allowing work and money to come from that. - Patrick Thean 

The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement, by Eliyahu Goldratt

I also like to recommend this fable on constraint-based planning to CEOs. - Patrick Thean

A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, by Daniel Pink

This book was published in 2005 and still remains relevant today, as the business world continues to move from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age. Many leaders find themselves trying to make this shift in thinking, but it's much easier said than done. This is a great read to prompt thinking in a very different way. - Cathy McCullough

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown

I've seen so many leaders work hard (with positive intent!), but they find themselves getting sucked into the daily grind and all the daily fires. Instead of working to get more things done in less time, this book is about getting only the right things done. It's great validation for using the Rhythm Methodology of "Think-Plan-Do," thereby creating the top 3-5 strategic company priorities to track in the Rhythm Dashboard. As a result, a leadership team's eyes stay focused on what's most important and relevant for forward-movement, while also creating clarity, focus and alignment--all of which allow a leadership team to grow their company with purpose.  - Cathy McCullough

Oops! 13 Management Practices that Waste Time and Money, by Aubrey Daniels

I often recommend this book. It provides a fresh perspective on many old-school management practices that are still around today, like annual performance appraisals, employee ranking, stretch-goals, and employee recognition programs. For each of the 13 mistakes, Daniels explains the original logic behind the idea, why it doesn't work, and what to do instead. - Chris Cosper

Exponential Organizations: Why New Organizations are Ten Times Better, Faster and Cheaper than Yours, by Salim Ismail 

This book talks about how to build new organizations that are leaner and more agile than conventional business models. It teaches how to innovate and bring new ideas to market quickly and how to leverage external resources to support your efforts. - Alan Gehringer

Driving Growth Through Innovation: How Leading Firms Are Transforming Their Futures, by Robert Tucker

This book is an excellent resource for creating the right culture to drive innovation while offering suggestions on how to generate ideas, spread the responsibility throughout the organization, discover future opportunities and remain customer focused. - Alan Gehringer

First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, by Marcus Buckingham, Curt Coffman, & the Gallup Organization

I love this research-based book that shares data and insights from great managers who do things differently to achieve and sustain high employee satisfaction, such as focusing on strengths versus weaknesses. - Melissa Enriquez

Six Thinking Hats, by Edward de Bono

As many clients grow, they struggle to think differently from the thinking that got them where they are. This book offers practical, positive approaches for teams to expand thinking, make decisions, and explore creative ideas. The foundation of long-term business success is how you and your team think, and this book allows one to untangle the spaghetti ball of thoughts and ideas for clarity in decisions. - Barry Pruitt

Hopefully, these book recommendations can help you kick off your culture of continuous learning so you can stay ahead of the competition (and the robots!) 

Please comment to share your favorite book recommendations. Thank you!

CEO Survival Kit

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Jessica Wishart


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