Books can often be the best mentors. Not only do they provide valuable lessons, but they also hold unique perspectives that may be overlooked by those around us. Here are 5 must-reads for those that are seeking guidance in the professional world or looking for ways in which they can improve their career:
1. Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know by Adam Grant
Adam Grant’s Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know focuses on the ideas of rethinking and unlearning. It tackles the increased polarization of modern society, and the common desire to always want to be right. Especially in the workplace, stubbornness and overconfidence are the killers of progress and efficiency. Grant teaches readers the importance of keeping an open mind and embracing moments of disagreements as learning opportunities; that way, we can all have more productive, substantial conversations.
Although Grant does not produce any groundbreaking ideas, he shines a much needed light on important concepts that are easily forgotten. Being able to effectively respond to differing opinions is critical in the workplace yet, in the hectic and stressful nature of everyday life, it’s easy to react to these situations defensively. Thus, in learning to let go of our need to always be correct, we can open the door to progress. Read Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know to dive deeper into Grant’s ideas of improvement.
2. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
Habits shape our lives; they dictate our day to day and impact our projected future. Good habits can be life changing while bad habits can also be life changing (but probably not in the way you want it to be). In the workplace, the habits of the employees and employers can not only shape business operations but also the entire working culture. So how do you actually build good habits (without giving up less than halfway through)? Atomic Habits centers around this lesson, with Clear teaching readers the necessary steps to make long-lasting changes.
Receiving overwhelmingly positive reviews, many individuals have found Atomic Habits to be incredibly impactful and effective in reshaping their lives. It might be easy to overlook another self-help book, but Clear’s practical, action-oriented advice makes it easy to actually implement the strategies that are proposed. One reader even wrote in a review, “every so often a book comes along in this genre that actually delivers on the promise and provides immense value to its readers […] Atomic Habits is one of those books.” Thus, if you have ever found yourself trying and failing to build better habits both in the workplace and in your personal life, James Clear’s Atomic Habits is one that is worth the read.
3. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
In the corporate world, teamwork is inevitable. Companies rely on cross-functional teams to build their products and services while employees must communicate their needs to their coworkers or managers on the day to day. Complications and disagreements are bound to arise when interacting with so many different people so understanding how to overcome those challenges and produce a successful result is an imperative skill. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team brings this to light and, with the lessons being uniquely told through the story of Kathryn Petersen, Decision Tech's CEO, Lencioni teaches readers how to conquer the main downfalls of an ineffective team.
With a 4+ rating on both Amazon and Goodreads, a majority of readers praise The Five Dysfunctions of a Team for its relevant advice. One reviewer humorously wrote, “I want to buy copies of this book and put it in the mailboxes of management across corporate America.” Thus, whether you’re a part of management or on the side of frustrated employees, Lencioni’s writing offers useful insights that can make teamwork a bit less dreadful.
4. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
Widely known and highly acclaimed, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead is tailored to help women succeed in the workplace. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Meta, discusses the ways in which women can successfully build their career in a male-dominated corporate environment. From being constantly doubted of their abilities to dealing with sexism and harassment, women are faced with tremendous setbacks in the workplace. Sandberg hopes to fight against the hardships placed against women by teaching her readers how to push forward past barriers and succeed in showing their full potential.
An empowering tool, Lean In offers women valuable lessons on how to rise up in the not so inclusive world of corporate America and teaches men how to best support their not as privileged coworkers. Reviews have praised the book for bringing up under-recognized issues, and many appreciate Sandberg’s stories of her own experiences as a woman in the workplace. Overall, no matter the gender, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead is worth the glance as it tackles prominent, long standing issues in the working world.
5. Doing Agile Right: Transformation without Chaos by Darrell K. Rigby, Sarah Elk, and Steve Berez
Agile: “the ability to create and respond to change. It is a way of dealing with, and ultimately succeeding in, an uncertain and turbulent environment.” Agile — or, more specifically, Agile Development — is a mindset of values adopted by companies to boost innovation and efficient production. The idea of Agile Development was created in 2001 after the publication of the Agile Manifesto, which was written by 17 software developers. The 12 Principles Behind the Agile Manifesto was written a few months after the Agile Manifesto and, since then, this mindset of flexibility has become more widely known and implemented by numerous companies. The key concept of Agile is to incrementally and iteratively develop a product, utilizing teamwork and a user-focused lens.
Doing Agile Right: Transformation without Chaos focuses on this mindset but brings to light the ways in which companies misunderstand and misuse its core values and principles. In order to truly practice Agile Development, it must be ingrained in the way organizations approach their work; however, too many are set in their rigid processes that block the way of innovation. Rigby, Elk, and Berez describe the correct and incorrect ways to practice Agile as well as how to reap its full benefits. Overall, if you’re interested in learning more about Agile and what it truly is, this book is for you.