Your reading wish list: 12 powerful books every HR leader should read

Jess Fuhl
Published on 6th March 2019
3 min read

Ernest Hemingway famously said, “There is no friend as loyal as a book.”

Yet it’s often such a challenge find a great read, one that’s as good as it says on the cover, that sticks with you long after you’ve turned the final page.

So, to celebrate World Book Day, we’ve compiled a list of our top 12 page-turners that we think you’ll enjoy.

With inspirational ideas and powerful problem-solving tricks, these are our picks for the HR or leader’s bookshelf.

1. Work rules! by Laszlo Bock

A New York Times bestseller, this book promises insights from inside Google that will transform how you live and lead. Written by Google’s Head of People Operations Laszlo Bock, you’ll discover exactly how this game-changing company grew into a world leader.

2. A world of good: lessons from around the world in improving the employee experience, by Gethin Nadin 

The premise is simple: finding ways to improve the lives of employees should be a priority for every company. If it’s not, you’re getting it wrong. This book brings together surprising workplace practices from countries around the world, while underpinning them with interviews and tried-and-tested research.

3. Originals: how non-conformists move the world, by Adam M Grant

How can leaders encourage originality in their organizations and help their staff to drive organizational progress? Grant uses inspirational stories of people going against the grain to show how to recognize a good idea, speak up without getting silenced, build a coalition of allies, and choose the right time to act – as well as managing fear and doubt.

4. The elemental workplace, by Neil Usher

Shortlisted for the Chartered Management Institute management’s book of the year, this book takes a long hard look at our workplaces and finds many of them mediocre, uninspiring and dysfunctional. It sets about telling us how we can turn it around with practical and accessible advice that’s witty, engaging and sharp.

5. No hard feelings, by Liz Fosslein and Mollie West Duffy

There’s a long-held belief that the workplace is no place for our emotions. Fosslein and West Duffy turn this idea on its head, arguing that we should use our emotions to get the most out of the workplace. Through fun and amusing illustrations, they explain how to express our emotions assertively, while still maintaining a respectful environment.

6. Brave new work, by Aaron Dignan

The way we work is fundamentally broken, argues Dignan. We need to reinvent organizations so we can eliminate red tape, have fewer and more productive meetings, cut down on rules, and reignite passion and energy throughout our organizations.

7. Thrive: the third metric to redefining success and creating a happier life, by Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington broke her cheekbone after collapsing from exhaustion and lack of sleep. After this wake-up call, she decided there must be a third metric after money and work that defines success—one that is related to wellbeing. It is in this spirit that she wrote Thrive.

8. Nine lies about work, by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall

Written by ‘strengths guru’ Marcus Buckingham and Cisco leadership and team intelligence head Ashley Goodall, this book is about tackling workplace myths. It explores why we shouldn’t try to align people’s goals and instead, should strive to align their sense of purpose and meaning.

9. Who can you trust? By Rachel Botsman

This book argues that despite living in an era of fake news, this isn’t the age of distrust – far from it. As a world-renowned trust and technology expert, Botsman should know. She says we’re at the tipping point of one of the biggest transformations in human history, where a new world order is emerging. If you’re interested in how and why trust patterns are shifting, this book won’t disappoint.

10. Build it: the rebel playbook for world class employee engagement

Looking for clear, practical and logical advice on how to build a high-performance culture? This is the book for you. Developed from working with thousands of leading companies throughout the world, it’s full to the brim with meaningful examples that you can apply to your organization.

11. Can I have your attention? By Curt Steinhorst and Jonathan McKee

Distractions. They’re everywhere. Constantly. People are spending more time being responsive to technological interruptions than their work output. This book is made for anyone who wants to help themselves, or their employees, overcome these distractions and work to their full potential—while establishing a climate of focus and concentration.

12. Trillion dollar coach by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle

Want to know Apple and Google’s secret weapon? It’s possibly the last thing you’d think: football coach, Bill Campbell. Written by the same authors who wrote How Google works, this is a playbook for innovation and teamwork. Apple CEO Tim Cook says: “Trillion Dollar Coach has captured Bill’s tireless spirit so future generations can learn from one of our industry’s greatest leaders.”

What’s on your list?

So, there you have it – 12 books to add to your reading list. From changing up your work rules, to how to persevere in tough times, there’s something for everyone.

Think you’ve found your next read? Let us know by tweeting us @SagePeople.


Browse more topics from this article

HR Strategy Industry Insight
Exit popup

Take an Interactive tour of Sage People

Discover how Sage People can transform the way you hire, manage, engage and retain your workforce, in this interactive product tour.