5 Must Read Books for Leadership & Productivity

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With more of my focus being placed on management of teams, I placed a lot of emphassis on improving my leadership skills throughout 2015. During this time I read a lot of different books that provided different approaches and techniques to help.

During my research into the books that I should be reading, I found very little in terms of reviews or recommendations from any of my peers within the digital marketing space. So, now we come to the end of the year, I thought I’d share with you the five books I found most useful for leadership & productivity.

The Hard Things About Hard Things


In The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley’s most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, draws on his own story of founding, running, selling, buying, managing, and investing in technology companies to offer essential advice and practical wisdom for navigating the toughest problems business schools don’t cover. His blog has garnered a devoted following of millions of readers who have come to rely on him to help them run their businesses. A lifelong rap fan, Horowitz amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favorite songs and tells it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors, from cultivating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash in.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things

Getting Things Done


Since it was first published in David Allen’s Getting Things Done has become one of the most influential business titles of its era, and the book on personal organisation. ‘GTD’ has become shorthand for an entire way of approaching the professional and personal tasks everyone faces in life, and has spawned an entire culture of websites, organisational tools, seminars, and offshoots.

For this revised and updated edition, David Allen has rewritten the book from start to finish, tweaking his classic text with new tools and technologies, and adding material that will make the book evergreen for the coming decades. Also new is a glossary of GTD terms; The GTD Path of Mastership – a description of what Allen has learned and is now teaching regarding the lifelong craft of integrating these practices, to the end-game of the capability of dealing with anything in life, by getting control and focus; and a section on the cognitive science research that validates GTD principles.

The new edition of Getting Things Done will be welcomed not only by the hundreds of thousands of existing fans but will be embraced by an entire new generation eager to adopt its proven principles.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-free Productivity

Leardership Plain and Simple


Leadership isn’t complicated – keep it simple and make it count. This new edition of Steve Radcliffe’s uniquely powerful, successful and practical framework will show you how to develop faster as a more confident and capable leader.

This compact, instantly-applicable guide to developing leadership skills contains practical insights, straightforward actions and plain guidelines to accelerate your growth as a leader.

The framework is derived from expert coach Steve Radcliffe’s work with real leaders in real leadership situations.

Leadership:Plain and Simple: Plain and Simple (2nd Edition) (Financial Times Series)

Only the Paranoid Survive


The President and CEO of Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker, reveals how to identify and exploit the key moments of change in any industry that generates either drastic failure or incredible success. Under Andrew Grove’s leadership, Intel has become the world’s largest computer chipmaker, the 5th most admired company in America, and the 7th most profitable company among the Fortune 500. Few CEOs can claim this level of success. Grove attributes much of it to the philosophy and strategy he has learned the hard way as he steered Intel through a series of potential major disasters. There are moments in any business when massive change occurs, when all the rules of business shift fast, furiously and forever. Grove calls such moments strategic inflection points (SIPs), and he has lived through several. They can be set off by almost anything – by mega competition, an arcane change in regulations, or by a seemingly modest change in technology. They are not always easy to spot – but you can’t hide from them.

Only The Paranoid Survive

High Output Management


The essential skill of creating and maintaining new businesses—the art of the entrepreneur—can be summed up in a single word: managing. In High Output Management, Andrew S. Grove, former chairman and CEO (and employee number three) of Intel, shares his perspective on how to build and run a company. Born of Grove’s experiences at one of America’s leading technology companies, this legendary management book is a Silicon Valley staple, equally appropriate for sales managers, accountants, consultants, and teachers, as well as CEOs and startup founders. Grove covers techniques for creating highly productive teams, demonstrating methods of motivation that lead to peak performance—throughout, High Output Management is a practical handbook for navigating real-life business scenarios and a powerful management manifesto with the ability to revolutionize the way we work.

High-Output Management

As mentioned, there are very few recommendations of books within our industry, so if you have any that you’d like to share then please let me know in the comments below.

The type of books I am looking for include:

  • Leadership / Management
  • Productivity
  • Process & Delivery

Image Credit – Moyan Brenn (Flickr)

3 thoughts on “5 Must Read Books for Leadership & Productivity”

  1. I have two suggestions for you:
    – “How to talk so kids will listen, and listen so kids will talk” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
    – “Time to Think: Listening to Ignite the Human Mind” by Nancy Kline

    The first one is actually a parenting book, but I have found the principles extremely helpful for adult interactions, too. It is all about understanding the emotions (e.g., frustration) behind what children / people say and do, and how your responses may be inflating those negative emotions. There are various exercises to help you think about how you communicate with others, in order to solve conflict and improve cooperation. As I say, it is focused on parenting, but the principles have been extended to other fields (e.g., teaching), and I have found them very helpful when dealing with adults, too.

    The second one is, again, about the importance of listening and asking ‘incisive questions’ to get to the bottom of assumptions / emotions / intentions beyond what people are saying (or writing, for that matter). We need both of these skills to be able to make good management decisions. I haven’t finished this book, yet, but it has been highly recommended to me by someone with great leadership skills.

  2. I am always looking for new leadership books out there to inspire and motivate me 🙂 Thanks for creating this list. I was super excited to find a really helpful leadership book this past year that I have been telling all of my friends about called “Leading For Results” by leadership development expert Joan Bragar (http://bostonleadership.com). The book doesn’t focus on famous leaders and their successful lives or complicated leadership theories. It is a book that is written for people who want to inspire their team/staff/etc and is written in a way that is easy to understand and implement. I also think the 5 practices that she discusses in detail can be applied to your personal life as well as your professional life. The author is someone who has been in the business for over 25 years and it shows. I really hope you and your readers check it out. Happy 2016! Excited for the new books this year has to offer


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