As a leader, it can be tempting to sideline your own development, especially if your daily to-do list feels daunting and you have teammates to support you. But that's exactly when it's most important to prioritize your education. 

It's just when your business starts to grow quickly that the need for education becomes more pronounced. The back-to-school season is the perfect time of year to invest in your learning so you don't feel unprepared or stagnant later.  

Books are an efficient way to teach old dogs new tricks. Here are a few titles perfect for this fall:

1. Beat The Bots by Anita Nielsen

Bots are increasingly replacing salespeople as artificial intelligence (AI)'s influence grows. But the real mystery is how to leverage your team's potential for authentic human connection to close more sales and beat the bots. That's where Anita Nielsen's advice in Beat The Bots can make a difference -- I've experienced better responses just by implementing a couple of her techniques.  

2. Shift by Nick Egan

If you've ever felt your mind gets in your way, Shift is for you. Nick Egan shows how to work through your internal obstacles by changing the way you think about -- and respond to -- your external environment. I like the way his Ph.D. in Buddhist philosophy influences the techniques that he offers, positioning you to start seeing obstacles as opportunities. 

3. The Snowball System by Mo Bunnell

How do you learn how to sell when the word "sell" itself makes you squirm? The Snowball System teaches you how to grow your business in a way you can feel good about. Every aspect of the system has the client's best interests in mind; what I really like about this book is that it's a complete playbook for business development. This book will benefit anyone looking to grow a portfolio of business -- and positive influence.

4. Measure, Execute, Win by Alex Castro

Investing in a new business idea is risky; a business is just as likely to succeed as it is to fail. It can be tricky to know what the right move might be. That's why Alex Castro developed a data-driven scoring system to evaluate a business's readiness for a new idea. I like the way his tips in Measure, Execute, Win can help business leaders assess proposals and effectively evaluate whether an idea will work well for their particular business. 

5. Faster, Smarter, Louder by Aaron Agius and Gián Clancey

This book is all about maximizing your digital presence to attract and retain customers. Written by the players backing brands like Salesforce and Coca-Cola, I like how their strategies reinforce the importance of content that feels authentic and provides value, not simply relying on technological advancements like SEO or social media. Faster, Smarter, Louder mixes a deep understanding of digital marketing with a focus on human interaction to fuel brands that are in it to win it. 

6. Align by Chris Meroff

Strong leadership isn't a skill set that simply comes with a job title. Being a new leader is something that requires hard work and dedication -- just like all of the work that got you there. That's why it's important to start connecting with your team in a meaningful way and leading from a place of serving. Chris Meroff's four-step process in Align will help you create a company culture that's built on a shared purpose and help each employee embrace his successes. 

7. Marketing to Gen Z by Jeff Fromm

It's important to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to marketing. To do that, you have to know how to reach Gen Z, which accounts for $143 billion in market spend. FutureCast President Jeff Fromm's book explores the values that guide Gen Z's spending decisions and how those spending decisions influence older consumers' preferences. Featuring trend insights and actionable tips, Marketing to Gen Z is a must-read for any company wanting to build a Gen Z customer base.

8. Recruitment Sucks...But It Doesn't Have To by Steve Lowisz

The tedious process of recruitment can make it easy to forget that the individuals you're recruiting could be your most important assets. These updated recruiting practices in Recruitment Sucks... But It Doesn't Have To allow you to see candidates as people and attract more talent, both in terms of quality and quantity. I feel the techniques in this book will also help you retain employees and create a more sustainable team.  

9. Worthy Human by Tracy Litt

This book brings to light the shared insecurities we all experience as humans, helping you to move past self-constructed obstacles. Even as a leader, I've had moments of questioning, but Worthy Human helped me understand that self-worth isn't negotiable -- and most of our thoughts get in the way of our success. 

Published on: Aug 15, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.