The Reading Nook

“Behind every stack of books is a flood of knowledge”
Eddie Conlon

There’s a plethora of management and leadership titles out there; the challenge is how to choose a book that is actually enjoyable to read, won’t gather dust on your bedside table, or make you feel overwhelmed or annoyed by barking instructions at you or telling you how to suck eggs?

Here’s a list of titles that we personally have found helpful and powerful and accessible – and that maintain their usefulness and relevance whilst other more populist titles and trends may come and go.


1. Taming Your Inner Gremlin – A Surprisingly Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way
CARSON, Rick (2003) Harper Collins Publishers, USA.


Don’t be put off by the whimsical title – it’s not a children’s book. This is a very sensible and practical book, which I’ve recommended to numerous clients over the years – particularly middle managers with aspirations to progress, or those who are struggling with confidence, or doubting their own effectiveness. It’s written in very straightforward and accessible language and looks at strategies and concepts for development self-awareness and insight, and into addressing self-limiting beliefs or subconscious self-sabotage that might be impacting on performance.

2. Great Rivals in History: When Politics Get Personal,
CUMMINS, Joseph (2013) Thunder Bay Press, USA.

Leadership rivalries (and politics) are as old as time. This book is fascinating because the author looks at the personalities and the motivations behind some of the most famous conflicts in history, in a really analytical and insightful way, and also within the context of the political and social climate of the time – and really makes them come alive. The lessons from each of the examples he provides are timeless and fascinating and provide food for thought for any curious 21st century manager or leader.

3. Tricky People: How to Deal With Horrible Types Before They Ruin Your Life,
FULLER, Andrew (2013) Harper Collins Publishers, Australia.

This book is written by an Australian, for Australian workplaces. It’s an easy and insightful read which provides powerful and practical insights and strategies for dealing with some key personality types in the workplace. What I like about this book is that it doesn’t fall into trap of pretending it has all the answers or tangling you up in complexity. The basic premise of the book is in the title: yes, you will encounter tricky or challenging people in your life, and the main focus is not on trying to change or overthink their behavior, it’s about how you manage your own responses and integrity whilst working with, for or alongside them.

4. The Inner Game of Tennis: The Ultimate Guide to Peak Performance,
GALLWEY, W Timothy (2015) Pan McMillan, Australia

An enduring classic which has been regularly revised over the years and focusses on strategies for developing a high-performance mindset – and most definitely NOT just for tennis players or athletes. Although the success of this book has spawned many profession and/or subject matter-specific editions such as “The Inner Game of Music”, and “The Inner Game of Work”, I’m confident to suggest that this remains the best, which concepts which are relatable to any individual seeking to reach an exceptional level of performance and effectiveness in his/her work and/or career.

5. How to Argue With a Cat: A Human’s Guide to the Art of Persuasion,
HEINRICHS, Jay (2018) Penguin Books, Great Britain.

Again, don’t be misled by the whimsical title. This is a fantastic book about the art of negotiation and persuasion and understanding all the factors involved in achieving great outcomes from complex people and situations. It’s a rare find in that it is both articulate and insightful, but also written with a sense of humour, and therefore both an enjoyable and informative read, without being either patronizing or preachy.

6.  The Five Dysfunctions of A Team: A Leadership Fable,
LENCIONI, Patrick (2002) John Wiley and Sons, USA.

This is book deservedly considered a classic, filled with rich content about how to help teams reach their potential – and the factors that can undermine team effectiveness and success. Lencioni has been a front runner in exploring the value of trust and vulnerability in high performing workplace cultures. His simple, elegant diagrams have found their way into many a leadership presentation (including mine), because they explain these important concepts so well and so clearly.

7.  How Not to Worry: The Remarkable Truth of How a Small Change Can Help you Stress Less and Enjoy Life More,
McGEE, Paul (2012) Capstone Publishing Ltd, United Kingdom.

This book is very practical and written in such a down to earth style that it literally feels like a conversation between the author and the reader – and a very reassuring and insightful one at that. It goes beyond the hackneyed advice we’ve all heard at some point in our professional careers and focusses on worry and anxiety can manifest in different ways for different personalities. It provides really useful and powerful strategies for individuals to use in keeping worries in perspective and minimizing their impact on our mental health and work performance.

8. How To Talk to Absolutely Anyone: Confident Communication for Work, Life and Relationships;
RHODES, Mark (2017) John Wiley and Sons, Great Britain

Networking is now part and parcel of everyday working life, and it can feel like everyone else is good at it and it “ should” just come naturally. And yet, For many, workplace social situations can be more challenging than a board meeting, but it’s not something that’s always easy to admit, or to ask for help in addressing. The reality is that shyness, fear of rejection, awkwardness or social hesitancy are far more common than many of us realise or would like to admit. This book provides really helpful and practical strategies, broken into steps to build confidence and skill in social situations, as well as other areas of life.

9. Think Simple: How Smart Leaders Defeat Complexity,
SEGALL, Ken (2016) Penguin Random House, New York

This book is a breath of fresh air, and eloquently makes the point that simplicity is far more sophisticated and powerful than complexity and overthinking- or, dare we say it, embracing complex trends. The author interviews a number of successful and high-profile business people, many of whom provide thought provoking examples as to how “looking at business through a lense of simplicity” has driven innovation, competitive advantage – and success.PS We do not recommend any works by Dostoyevsky (and especially not for tough days at the office) …..unless you really feel the need to be reminded that things could be worse…..much worse.

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