Back To School: 15 Books To Build Your Career

15 Books You'll Want To Pick Up

Here are 15 books recommended by CRN readers that range from the inspirational to the tactical. Whether you're looking to sharpen your managerial skills or looking for some inspiration, there's something on this list for everyone. Pick up one or two of these and let us know your thoughts -- or make your own suggestions. Click here for more info.

Think And Grow Rich

Author: Napoleon Hill

Despite this book being published more than 70 years ago, its principles are still very relevant in today's business world. Far from being outdated, Hill's research of how the tycoons of the early 20th century prospered can be successfully applied in current times. He interviewed 500 people, including Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and John D. Rockefeller, and distilled a "philosophy of personal achievement."

The Alchemist

Author: Paulo Coehlo

In this 10-year-old business fable, Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy, dreams of a distant treasure in the Egyptian pyramids, and goes off in pursuit of his fortune. Meeting up with an alchemist allows the boy to achieve self-understanding and spiritual enlightenment. For Coehlo, following your dreams, while difficult, results in the greatest reward.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Author: Daniel Pink

Pink challenges the long-held wisdom that claims people can only be motivated by the hope of gain and the fear of loss. Pink cites a dizzying number of studies revealing that carrot and stick can actually significantly reduce the ability of workers to produce creative solutions to problems.

Five Dysfunctions Of A Team

Author: Patrick Lencioni

A parable for managers on the importance of teamwork, and how to restore a team that has unravelled. Lencioni weaves his lessons around the story of a troubled tech firm and its unexpected choice for a new CEO. In the first part of the book, readers learn how the new boss worked to motivate the team to work as a unit, and bring success to the organization. The second part offers details on those "five dysfunctions:" absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results.


Authors: Jack And Suzy Welch

This book deals with the human side of leadership and focuses on management techniques. Although the book opens with an overview of candor, differentiation among employees, and inclusion of all voices in decision-making, it segues into the importance of hiring and firing, and all the people management in between. Crisis management and, later, individual career issues -- such as finding the right job, getting promoted, and dealing with a bad boss -- are also discussed.

Retaining Your Best People: The Results Driven Manager

Author: Harvard Business Press

This guide offers methods to help managers keep their MVPs motivated, happy, and productive -- and with your company. Topics include engaging workers, designing appropriate incentive systems and creating innovative cultures.

The Manager's Guide To Distribution Channels

Authors: Linda Gorchels, Edward Marien, Chuck West

This guidebook offers managers and decision makers tools and go-to-market strategies for refining channel strategies and managing distribution relationships. Self-assessment tools combine with real-world case histories and examples.

Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive And Others Die

Author: Chip and Dan Heath

An entertaining, practical guide to effective communication and a look at how to make ideas "stick." Urban legends and advertisements are studied to discover what makes them memorable. A good resource for learning how to be an effective storyteller.

Emotional Intelligence

Author: Daniel Goleman

The author, a writer for the Science section of The New York Times, defines "emotional intelligence" as a trait not measured by IQ tests, but rather as a set of skills. Goleman's work is applicable for social as well as business settings, and includes a discussion of impulse control, self-motivation and empathy.

Atlas Shrugged

Author: Ayn Rand

A classic -- and a novel -- about business well ahead of its time. At 1,200 pages in paperback, be sure to carve out enough time to devote to this story about society's collapse. As government increasingly tries to control all industry, the "men of the mind," led by John Galt, hope to demonstrate that a world in which the individual is not free to create is doomed.

Reinventing Leadership: Strategies to Empower the Organization

Authors: Warren Bennis and Robert Townsend

Is militaristic, command-and-control leadership a thing of the past? The authors believe so, and that means the current downsized, flat-management era requires a different leadership style. To that end, readers are provided with "dialogue starters" and a 21-day plan to help them apply the pithy principles suggested.

The Tipping Point

Author: Malcolm Gladwell

Even the tiniest changes can have large and consequential effects, that's the author's premise. His thesis that ideas, products, messages and behaviors spread like viruses underscores his point that when small numbers of people start behaving differently, that behavior can continue on and on ("and so on, and so on") until a "tipping point" is reached. Mavens, connectors and salespeople all make up the chain that winds up changing the game.

Leading Quietly

Author: Joseph L. Badaracco Jr.

Badaracco presents eight principles of leadership, each with a brief introduction, followed by a case study and summary of the lessons to be learned. The book is focused on helping middle managers succeed. He writes: "What usually matters are careful, thoughtful, small, practical efforts by people working far from the limelight. In short, quiet leadership is what moves and changes the world."

From Worst To First

Author: Gordon Bethune

Although this book is about Continental Airlines' trials and tribulations, the techniques the author, also Continental's CEO, discusses are applicable for any size business. He outlines a four-fold plan for turning around his company -- which might work for your firm as well. Bethune, with good luck and even better people, was able to turn Continental into an award-winning company.

Getting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

Roger Fisher shares a simple and straightforward five-step system for how to behave in negotiations. The book is a how-to for negotiations, and it includes answers to those painful questions: What if the other side is more powerful? What if they will not play along? And what if they use dirty tricks?