Not everyone has the time and money required for a MBA degree. But a number of books can help you hone your leadership instincts and master today’s most important business concepts. China Economic Review spoke with Josh Kaufman, an independent business professor, education activist and author of The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business to come up with this recommended reading list.
12: The Elements of Great Managing
by Rodd Wagner and James Harter
It’s often said that a business’ greatest asset is its people. 12: The Element of Great Managing, the sequel to the 1999 best-seller, First, Break All the Rules, teaches you how to attract and retain talent, and strengthen company culture.
The book’s insights are supported by an impressive amount of empirical evidence, using data from 10 million employee and manager interviews across 114 countries. With their scientific approach, Wagner and Harter come up with 12 factors that largely determine how satisfied people are at work.
Despite being fundamentally technical, the book is easy to understand, using various anecdotal evidence alongside empirical findings. 12 follows great managers as they grapple with business challenges around the world, including leaders who harness employee engagement to save a failing call center, revive a struggling hotel, and maintain production through power outages.
Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur
by Pamela Slim
When Pamela Slim spent a decade traveling across the US as a self-employed corporate trainer, she couldn’t believe how many successful employees secretly dreamed of starting their own business. They would pull her aside and ask discreetly, “I would love to work for myself, but have no idea how to get started. How did you do it?”
Not long after, Slim started a blog called Escape from Cubicle Nation to share her experience and advice, which was later culminated into her 2009 book. Slim gives an aspiring entrepreneur all they need to know about making the leap to independence. She provides a step-by-step guide on how to become self-employed – from coming up with a good idea, to actually starting a business whilst dealing with family and friends along the way.
This, coupled with her encouraging, yet hard-headed writing style, makes this book an inspiring read for people who are looking to leave their cubicles behind.
What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful
by Marshall Goldsmith
Your habits may be holding you back from being an effective manager, and you probably don’t even know it. In What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, veteran executive coach Marshall Goldsmith shares his experience in helping top executives at Fortune 500 companies change their behavior and improve their interpersonal skills.
The 256-page book pinpoints the 20 most damaging habits that stifle already successful careers. What makes Goldsmith’s arguments interesting is the relationship he draws between these habits and success. He explains that while some personality traits help people rise to leadership positions, those same characteristics may actually inhibit promotional potential later on.
Hiring Smart! How to Predict Winners and Losers in the Incredibly Expensive People-Reading Game
by Pierre Mornell
One bad apple can spoil the bunch. Pierre Mornell puts into p
erspective just how costly hiring the wrong person can be in the long run. Using his experience as a hiring consultant for major corporations, Mornell highlights 45 tactics to identify the best candidate for the job.
His advice teaches you how to read people, covering conventional techniques such as “#18 Identify Strengths and Weaknesses,” to more unusual tricks such as “#26 Travel with the Candidate.” This book is useful for anyone in a hiring position, as it provides quick and easy tips for improving hiring practices.
The Investment Answer: Learn to Manage Your Money & Protect Your Financial Future
by Daniel Goldie and Gordon Murray
One of China Economic Review’s recommendations, this book aims to demystify the investment process. After Wall Street veteran Daniel Goldie was told he had only six months to live, he teamed up with his good friend, Gordon Murray, a financial advisor and ex-professional tennis player, to work on the book he’s always wanted to write.
The Investment Answer offers timeless investment advice that benefits readers – not the financial services industry. Simple and comprehensive, The Investment Answer is a valuable primer for all levels of investors. In less than 100 pages, Murray and Goldie do not pretend to offer anything new in terms of strategy, nor does it delve deep into investment theory. Instead, the book gives sensible and executable guidelines, thereby stacking the investment odds in your favor and ignoring any misleading fads.
How to Read a Financial Report: Wringing Vital Signs Out of the Numbers
by John A. Tracy
As the title suggests, John A. Tracy’s book is a user’s guide for reading financial reports in plain English. Financial reports provide essential information to investors, lenders and managers, revealing where a company has been and where it is heading. But for many people, this information often seems to be hidden in a labyrinth of numbers and information.
How to Read a Financial Report gives readers a straightforward explanation of the fundamentals, guiding people on how to navigate the three core business accounting reports: the income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement. The book provides the necessary tools to untangle the web of information in financial reports, and to better understand the financial strength of any company.
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