Successful business owners are made from a constantly changing recipe of ingredients. In times like these, where the world of business shifts radically, it’s up to us to keep up and stay ahead of the curve. Reading is more than an excellent way to pass the time – it’s an opportunity to hone managerial skills and assimilate knowledge to apply to your own business and leadership style. With communication being a necessity in any manager’s toolkit, reading not only increases verbal intelligence, but it also helps us to learn how to cognitively reflect, which is the ability to question our own assumptions.
The list of top reads for business owners below is compiled of staples for those looking to get inspired by new ideas and ways of thinking.
Leaders Eat Last – Simon Sinek
Simon Sinek himself is a wonderful example of someone who demands authority without sounding threatening and condescending. This book is full of tidbits to ponder, especially in terms of communication with colleagues and employees. He provides excellent explanations of what a true leader looks like and how it can be applied to daily thinking and tasks.
The Intelligence Trap – David Robson
If perspective is what you’re after, you cannot go past this book. A common misconception of those with a high IQ is that they have the ability to make well-rounded decisions in every aspect of their life, but there are those with exceptionally high academic intelligence scores who make exceptionally bad, common-sense decisions aka ‘The Intelligence Trap’. In the world of any specialty field, there will be people who fit these criteria to a tee and chances are, we all know at least one. This is a book that provides examples of what makes them tick and uses terms such as ‘Fachidiot: an expert in the role but with blinkers on’ and ‘Functional Stupidity: a reluctance to self-reflect on our actions’.
Shoe Dog – Phil Knight
An easy read to help keep the internal motivational fire burning. Shoe Dog gives all entrepreneurs and business owners a reality check like no other. As the creator of one of the world’s most iconic brands; ‘Nike’, this book details the ups and downs of Phil Knight’s road to success. This story will help you remember why you started in the first place and show you what can happen when you hustle like it’s nobody’s business.
Daring Greatly – Brene Brown
A book that clearly illustrates the importance of vulnerability when it comes to taking big steps on the way to the top. A lot of business owners wait for the perfect opportunity or the serendipitous moment when everything is supposed to fall into place but the reality is very different. Daring Greatly is a prime example of why taking risks can pay off regardless of the outcome; you win or you learn.
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Never Split the Difference – Chris Voss with Tahl Raz
Great business owners believe in their product or service so fiercely that selling it is less like a ‘sale’ and more like a sermon. Despite this, there are still times when negotiation is needed to get a customer over the line because you know they’ll be better off with your business anyway. Never Split the Difference is a fantastic blueprint for negotiating effectively in business and providing tactics to communicate with people when it might not be going the way you thought it would.
Crucial Conversations – Kerry Patterson
Academic intelligence is one thing, emotional intelligence is another. As a leader and business owner, it’s crucial that the latter exceeds the former. It’s one thing to understand what it takes to speak to people under pressure and in high-stake situations but it’s another to actually be able to do it. Being skilled in dialogue is important for internal and external relationships within a business and this book will be your best friend when it comes to managing difficult conversations when there is a lot on the line.
Grit – Angela Ducksworth
The idea of ‘grit’ probably means a lot of different things to different people, but what this book does is highlight why talent alone is not the biggest indicator of success. For current and aspiring business owners, there will be a few excerpts from this book that resonate. We often get caught up in believing that lack of natural talent means a lack of success – but what happens when we account for grit? “Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.” Being in business for the long-haul, dedicating your life to something for the long-haul is where success is born and Grit is a great explanation of why!
Reading makes you a better thinker and it definitely makes you a better communicator so it’s only natural that leaders and business owners should read in order to become better at what they do. By consistently challenging your own ideas of what success looks like and what it takes to get there, the growth mindset that is so important to have in leadership will take hold and you will be in for an impressive rollercoaster ride of business decisions!