by John Brandon

7 new business books you must read this fall

Oct 08, 2015
CIOIT Leadership

If you’re looking for some required reading, start with this curated list of the latest theories on leadership, management and success.

Being a leader is a constant exercise in self-education. You never reach the pinnacle of perfect leadership ability or knowledge, mostly because the world keeps changing – and so do the projects, teams, and objectives of the company you’re leading. 

To help, these recent and forthcoming books for fall offer some keen insights about leadership, technology trends and personal productivity. They were hand-picked to help business leaders grow, to challenge a rote way of thinking. Some are surprisingly counter-intuitive, but each one is worth reading as a way to expand your thinking and knowledge.

pfeffer leadership bs fixing workplaces careers

1. Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time – Jeffrey Pfeffer 

This book on leadership makes some bold claims about how to lead. One of the key points is that the trend in management to show your feelings and reveal your inner thoughts might be causing problems. Good leaders usually need to stick to proven leadership formulas. The book suggests that we want to have a father or mother figure who is warm and caring, but research shows the opposite – that leaders need to be strategic and bold. 

Length: 272 pages Publisher: HarperBusiness 

talgam ignorant maestro unpredictable brilliance

2. The Ignorant Maestro: How Great Leaders Inspire Unpredictable Brilliance – Itay Talgam 

Read this book if you think you know everything already. The basic idea is that we can learn from our ignorance:  that leaders in business have to go into new situations with an attitude of learning and curiosity not of control and dictating behavior. The book tends to use examples of great doctors or conductors who had to learn something complex and new. It’s an interesting way to present business ideas because the anecdotes (and the writing) are never boring. 

Length: 240 pages Publisher: Portfolio 

keller key everything unlocking succeed

3. The Key to Everything: Unlocking the Secret to Why Some People Succeed and Others Don’t – Matt Keller 

Even at a high level of executive leadership, it’s still important to be teachable. That’s the main point behind The Key to Everything, a book by a pastor and leadership coach who uses personal examples (including some parenting advice) to show how it all works. One of the reasons we are not teachable has to do with fear and lack of confidence in our abilities. Teachability is a constant desire to learn and grow, a concept that applies to all levels of management. 

Length: 224 pages Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishing 

howard we commerce

4. We-Commerce: How to Create, Collaborate, and Succeed in the Sharing Economy – Billee Howard 

Every business leader in the world was touched by the economic crisis of 2008. That formed a collective consciousness around what caused the collapse. Many of those lessons are well-known, and many of them are documented in this book about strategic collaboration. Marketing strategist Billee Howard uses example of how companies have learned from the meltdown and from failure, from Google to Whole Foods, as a lesson for everyone. 

Length: 208 pages Publisher: Perigee Books

syed black box thinking

5. Black Box Thinking: Why Most People Never Learn from Their Mistakes – But Some Do – Matthew Syed 

A black box in an airplane reveals what went wrong during a flight. Companies can do the same when it comes to problems that arise in their field. Toyota, the aviation market, the medical field, and many others all serve as examples of how companies have learned from failures – or didn’t learn from them and kept repeating them. For business leaders, Black Box Thinking provides an excellent recipe for learning from failure rather than just trying to avoid it. 

Length: 336 pages Publisher: Portfolio

crabbe busy

6. Busy: How to Thrive in a World of Too Much – Tony Crabbe

That slight “buzz” we feel from working hard all day could be hurting productivity. We’re addicted to feeling busy, checking our phones constantly and clicking through emails. Yet, as business psychologist Tony Crabbe explains in his groundbreaking book, it’s better to manage your attention and priorities rather than just manage your time. At its core, the book advises business leaders to learn how to focus and avoid the myth of multitasking. 

Length: 369 pages Publisher: Piatkus

turkle reclaiming conversation

7. Reclaiming Conversations: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age – Sherry Turkle

 There’s a problem plaguing society right now, and it has infiltrated our offices as well. As Sherry Turkle explains in her compelling book, we show up at meetings and immediately pull out phones and tablets. We use a technique called “phubbing” and barely pay attention to someone as we surf or check email. The book is a treatise on how to get back into a dialogue with people and exchange ideas. 

Length: 448 pages Publisher: Penguin Press