Most business books are written for company founders and executives. These books help leaders adopt primary strategies for leading others and accelerating company growth. Only a small segment of nonfiction business books is written to support the whole team. One huge issue: Writers tend to write for readers of books.
In 2016, Pew Research reported that less than one in four Americans had read a book in the past year. Leaders often feel pressure to expand their expertise and fuel their companies' growth, pushing them to read multiple books a year.
But they're far from the only audience hungry for knowledge -- and the smartest will help their team members find books that address their own challenges and opportunities.
Creating a Culture of Learning
Imagine the power of having employees who enjoy learning and improving their performance at work. This may not happen naturally, given the pull of life outside work. However, many companies find success in organizing book clubs and discussions. We all know we must grow as individuals to continue to be relevant tomorrow.
These books were meant to be read by every employee, not just executives. Each can be discussed within the workplace and ingrained in how your team works.
1. Meetings Suck by Cameron Herold
Cameron Herold wrote Meetings Suck because it's such a common phrase in today's workplaces. Most of the time, you never utter the words -- you simply believe you wasted time by attending the meeting in the first place. Herold says, "Meeting don't suck; we suck at running meetings."
Herold wanted all employees to understand the power of well-organized meetings so they could contribute to running them more effectively. I like the actionable steps within this book; I've personally seen the benefit of companies holding more tightly focused meetings by adopting its principles. In the end, you get more done with better meetings.
2. Hug Your Haters by Jay Baer
Jay Baer wrote Hug Your Haters to help each employee understand "haters" and respond in a way that improves their chances of keeping customers. Baer partnered with Edison Research to look at more than 2,000 interactions to shift how people approach their haters. What I like about this book is The Hatrix, a detailed examination of the differences between the two types of haters.
This book will give your employees a foundation for improving the way they respond to customer complaints. It provides a step-by-step process to engineer happy customer interactions.
3. Essentialism by Greg McKeown
Greg McKeown wrote Essentialism to transform the way we think about work, time and priorities. This book is a powerful resource for those who want to get more of the right work done. McKeown shared his powerful principle of essentialism years ago on my podcast, Leaders in the Trenches. I adopted the insights in this book and saw a profound impact on the work getting done -- and how I felt about my work, too.
Every employee needs to read Essentialism to understand their priorities. The systematic elimination of everything that doesn't contribute toward the things that really matter is the essence of success in today's constantly distracting world.
4. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and Janet Mills
Don Miguel Ruiz and Janet Mills wrote The Four Agreements to organize four powerful principles that every employee can use to reach their highest potential. I've found the wisdom of this book impossible to refute if you want to treat others with love. And yes, the right kind of love is necessary in the workplace.
Your employees can look at how their daily interactions align -- or don't -- with the four agreements, giving them a standard for how they should show up every day.
5. Radical Candor by Kim Scott
Kim Scott authored Radical Candor to guide employees and leaders on giving feedback. Scott's framework for feedback aligns everyone to speak directly and clearly for the good of the company. I've found that organizations that have more frank conversations are willing to grow faster together.
Everyone will benefit from understanding the feedback framework to amplify their ability to engage others, even when it's difficult. The big principle from the book sums it up: "Care personally, challenge directly."
6. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
Patrick Lencioni wrote The Five Dysfunctions of a Team to highlight how teams often don't work well together. I love the way the story underscores distinctions in how different types of people in every organization think and communicate. We can all relate to the characters in this book.
Every employee will understand the five challenges teams encounter as they work together to create stronger working relationships. The book also includes worksheets to support your next book club.
Books can unlock a common language and new principles within teams if you let them. The key is not to read the books, but to see work through a new lens -- and behave that way, too.