5 Book Recommendations For Aspiring Managers
There is a huge difference between studying to be a manager and actually being a manager. And that difference can be scary. Some are born leaders and some need an extra push. Education such as an MBA strives to give you that extra push. But being a great manager moves beyond your formal education. It’s what you do extra that gives you an edge. An edge that makes you great instead of just good. Experience, in this case, can make all the difference. But that comes later. So what can you do to be better? To be the best? To be great? READ.
Reading can help you gain that experience which time has yet to give you to be great. Many of the great managers have been avid readers and that’s what sets them apart. For instance, Winston Churchill, who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, won a Nobel Prize in Literature! People google Winston Churchill’s speeches even after decades. This is because he was also an excellent orator. Reading inculcates empathy, innovation, opinions and a well formed mind as well as oratory skills by enhancing your abstract knowledge and vocabulary.
So the question is what can you read to make you better?
There are umpteen books in the market to help you develop the right skillset for an effective managerial or leadership role.
- 7 habits of highly effective people by Stephen Covey
The first step to be an effective/great manager is to be an effective person. Stephen Covey, in his book, points out the 7 most important habits, ranging from being proactive to sharpening the saw. Habits are what shape us, our behaviour, our thought processes and to a very large extent, even our knowledge and desires. Such an integral part of our life is to be handled with utmost care as in the end it is what will even shape our successes and/or failures. The book moves us from the stage of dependence to independence to interdependence. Our liberal notion of being at a stage of independence is flawed and is not optimal. Hence, we need to move to a model of interdependence. This book aims at providing the reader with top 7 habits that one needs to inculcate in order to become efficient not only in professional life but also in the personal life.
- 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
48 Laws of Power is a masterpiece in a manner of speaking. People either love it or hate it. This book integrates the philosophies and principles of Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, and Carl Von Clausewitz with the historical legacies of statesmen, warriors, seducers, and con men throughout the ages. The laws mentioned in this book could be viewed as an obvious teaching but is applicable across varied professions. As a manager, it is important to understand the laws and integrate their learnings in your day to day professional life. The ultimate power lies within you to incorporate these appropriately. Gear up to manage and lead using these 48 Laws of Power and see the difference.
- Good to Great by Jim Collins
This has been regarded by many Wall Street CEO’s as the best management books they’ve ever read. It’s a common saying that if you want different results, it is time to start doing things differently. And this book helps you to do just that. Jim Collins and his team of researchers spent around 5 years analyzing over 4000 articles and more. Collins finds the main factor for achieving the transition to be a narrow focusing of the company’s resources on their field of competence. They describe 7 different characteristics of companies that transitioned from good to great. And this is exactly the kind of book you need to make your managerial debut a hit with your company.
- One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
The short book emphasizes on three techniques of an effective manager: one-minute goals, one-minute praisings and one-minute reprimands. Each take only a minute but can have lasting benefits for you, your sub-ordinates and your company. Happy employees = happy organization. An important role of a manager is to motivate his employees, conduct appraisals, increase productivity, personal effectiveness and set clear concrete goals which this books aims to cover by a parable.
- The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt
‘The Goal’ is a management oriented fiction novel which revolves around the main character Alex Rogo, who manages a product plant which is owned by company X and that is constantly behind schedule. The story begins with Bill Peach, an executive of the company who gives Alex 3 months to get his act together with regards to the plant. Alex then takes help of an old acquaintance who is essentially a physicist to turn the plant around. Goldratt introduced the concept of theory of constraints in this book and even reflected on Socratic learning. The essence of theory of constraints lies in the idiom, ‘a chain is no stronger than its weakest link’. It helps you be aware of bottlenecks in your process which is quite important for a manager to recognize. It is must-read for anyone pursuing operations management or interested in process oriented work profile.
Of course there are plenty of other books to help you be the manager you aspire to be but this is a small list to help you put those management shoes on and leadership hats on.