Being a CEO doesn't come with an instructional manual. And for most founders who end up in the top job of their business, they usually have little to no management and executive experience. Most early-stage, high-growth business leaders find that they have created a successful, thriving business but have no idea on how to manage people.
As a business coach, I work with many first-time CEOs who have big ambitions but also know they need help to grow themselves and their companies. One of the things I do is help them be better leaders and better managers by leveling up their skills and perspectives. Learning to better manage their teams is usually on top of the list.
While there are many ways to learn, here are six of the best books I've found on how to better manage people that I recommend to all my CEO clients. If you're a new CEO struggling to manage your team, this is a great starting point to develop your people skills.
Drive by Daniel Pink
Pink does a great job in breaking down the complex issues of what motivates people into three basic areas. With my CEOs, we speak about AMP: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Any time we discuss how to motivate a team or an individual, we check in on these three elements and how they can use them to drive engagement and performance. It's a simple concept that can lead to big results, when applied well.
Crucial Conversations, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
Business is full of tough conversations. Unfortunately, many people deal with this by either avoiding conflict or picking a fight. These authors explain how to get clear with your own needs and wants first, create an environment that will foster deep connection and sharing, and honestly listen and consider other people's needs and wants. Only then can you find true solutions and put in place a plan of action that will create real change. This is a book on life, but it's great for the office, too.
Radical Candor, by Kim Scott
While many people avoid giving feedback to direct reports and colleagues, Scott does a great job of explaining why the truly professional and caring thing to do is to provide radical candor. Only through open, honest, direct, and timely feedback can someone grow and learn. Saying nothing is not being nice--it's being apathetic.
Now, Discover Your Strengths, by Marcus Buckingham
I'm a big fan of personal and professional development and I recommend to all of my executive clients that they create a culture of continuous improvement. And while everyone has weaknesses that need to be managed, you're far better off focusing on your strengths. Buckingham does a great job of helping people find the things they are good at and passionate about, to fuel their growth.
Mindset, by Carol Dweck
This book is a game changer for most managers. Dweck shows us why regardless of our skills, experience, genetics, or aptitude, the most influential factor on our ability to learn is whether we think we can do something or not. Those people with a growth mindset will be far more likely to change, and those with a fixed mindset will be far less likely. So before you put together the training plan, coach the mindset first.
Power of a Positive No, by William Ury
I still remember the first time I read this book and how it changed both my professional and personal life. One of my core values is to be of service to people and help them. But I found myself saying yes to everything and trying to help everyone and as a result spreading myself too thin and not being very effective. Ury taught me to develop a clearer picture of my bigger goals and purpose and to use that to say "no" to many requests so that I could say "yes" powerfully to the ones that truly mattered to me.
The six above are just a start. There are countless other books on managing people and how to create a great culture in your company. And you should strive to read all of them if you want to be an exceptional leader. People management is not just a good skill to have, it's what will drive your professional success and the success of your company.