Recommended reading - 10 books to boost your L&D this Fall

From Learning and Development to psychological insights that can help you navigate the modern work environment, our 10 best books have earned their place at the top table.

Written by Kevin Dunne
Published 17 September 2019
Recommended reading - 10 books to boost your L&D this Fall

From Learning and Development to psychological insights that can help you navigate the modern work environment, our 10 best books have earned their place at the top table.


What Color Is Your Parachute? 2019: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers by Richard N. Bolles

"Interviewing is like dating and your chance to help employers understand why you're the 'one' for the job," reckons author, the late Richard N. Bolles.  

One of Time magazine's 100 best nonfiction books ever, this job-hunter's bible has been updated annually since it first appeared on the shelves way back in 1970.

Aside from such gems as 10 commandments for interviews, and reminders to always 'Google' yourself (because potential employers certainly will, so make the necessary adjustments!), Bolles also champions a unique approach to cracking the job market.  

Tried, tested, respected, and with a claimed 86 percent success rate, don't jump until you've got this book.  

Behind our paywall, you can read or listen to the full Mind Tools' review. Buy the book here.

8 Keys to Eliminating Passive-Aggressiveness by Andrea Brandt 

"Passive-aggressive communication is inherently two-faced - double messages, sarcasm and muttered asides. When challenged, the passive-aggressive person will say 'Oh, it's nothing,' and insist they are fine." 

You probably know someone like that. It may even be you. Passive-Aggressive people agree to do something, while actually having no intention of doing it. This is their way of exercising control while avoiding conflict.  

Psychotherapist Andrea Brandt, PhD, unpicks the relationship between hidden anger and the flawed thinking it underpins.

And she lays out comprehensive strategies for confronting the false beliefs that passive-aggressive behavior depends on.  

Read or listen to the full review or buy the book here.

Measure What Matters: OKRs - The Simple Idea That Drives 10x Growth by John Doerr 

In 1999, John Doerr met the founders of a small start-up to discuss how OKRs 'Objectives and Key Results' could drive their small start-up forward. He ended up investing $12million in them. It paid off: that start-up was Google.

The legendary venture capitalist believes that without clear and achievable goals, your organization will struggle to grow. But if you just dictate the path forward, he recognizes you risk a backlash.  

Doerr believes OKRs have the power to resolve what sounds like an impossible dilemma - by setting aligned goals that drive growth and inspire and engage your people.  

His book and his approach neatly tie together the activity and performance of an entire organization - giving everyone purpose on the journey.  

Read or listen to the full review when you sign up to Mind Tools. 

Buy the book, here.

Reinforcements: How to Get People to Help You by Heidi Grant 

"Some people would rather work all weekend than ask a colleague to help meet a deadline. Why? Social pain," Colombia University social psychologist Dr Heidi Grant tells us.

This anxiety over embarrassment and fear of rejection follows the same neural pathways as the pain of a broken limb. When we ask for help, we expose ourselves to the possibility of social pain. So it's no wonder that we're reluctant to do it.  

Grant's book helps us overcome those uncomfortable feelings, explaining how asking for, and then getting, help can benefit both the helper and helped.

But "Don't make it weird," she warns. Saying, "I hate having to ask you, but"  serves only to make a helper feel compelled- and the feel-good factor takes a hit.  

Read or listen to the full review or buy the book here

Appreciate: Celebrating People, Inspiring Greatness by David Sturt, Todd Nordstrom, Kevin Ames, and Gary Beckstrand 

"Even one word of recognition can influence us for a lifetime. Appreciation is one thing all leaders can do to make a difference. What's more, it's what people want most."

In 2015, the O.C. Tanner Institute asked more than a thousand U.S. employees what their bosses could do to motivate them more. Just seven percent cited more pay, 37 percent wanted more recognition. It's a no-brainer.  

On the flip side, a lack of appreciation has a detrimental effect on productivity, innovation and engagement. And that's no good for business.  

The authors tell us leaders need to be clear about what they value, and communicate that. When people know what behaviors and qualities you appreciate, they'll know how to stand out.  

But woe betide the leader who doesn't reward a victory or an achievement. People may want to seek appreciation elsewhere...  

Read or listen to the full review or buy the book here

How Finance Works: The HBR Guide to Thinking Smart About the Numbers by Mihir Desai  

Based on a popular class taught at Harvard Business School, this is Money For Dummies and then some. And then some more.

The author, renowned economist Mihir Desai, is Mizuho Financial Group Professor at Harvard Business School, a Harvard Law School professor, and also a former Wall Street analyst.  

And he is on a mission to make finance accessible. He uses household names for case studies, writes in a friendly, conversational tone, and gets financial experts to explain their day jobs in a clear, engaging manner.  

If you're already well versed in finance this book is still a valuable read, as Desai does a great job of simplifying a complex industry, 

But if you're new to capital markets or struggle with mathematics, you're going to have to concentrate.  

Read or listen to the full review or buy the book here

Rebel Talent: Why It Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life by Francesca Gino 

How can it pay to break rules? Is it a good idea to run stop lights or refuse to pay our taxes? Clearly not. That would lead to chaos. And the same is true in the workplace.

Rule breakers are usually seen as disruptive, selfish and poor team players. But the "rebel talent" of the title don't break rules for the sake of it. They constructively rebel when it will lead to a positive outcome.  

Francesca Gino is a Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. She's also a relentlessly curious analyst of human behavior, in particular of decision making.  

Rebels are true to their own values, she says. But being authentic can create difficulties, of course, especially when your values tell you to speak out against "groupthink."  

Gino says that rebel leaders, like Napoleon, reveal themselves, and reach out to others. They inspire trust by showing who they really are, and what they believe in. And they get results. 

Read or listen to the full review or buy the book here.

Driving Digital Strategy: A Guide to Reimagining Your Business by Sunil Gupta  

Whatever industry you're in, the future is digital. Data is the new oil and people with skills in analytics, computer science, and coding are not surprisingly in high demand.

And according to Harvard business professor Sunil Gupta, leaders who don't want to be left behind should adopt a digital-first approach, and embed digital in the DNA of their organization.

Many leaders treat digital as separate to their main business, setting up independent teams of digital innovators. Gupta tells us this isn't going to work.

This important book provides a framework to help create an all-encompassing digital strategy right for your organization. It's packed with examples, best practices and case studies.  

Gupta provides an intelligent and detailed account of digital opportunities in today's market, and cuts through some of the hype, fears and reservations that surround it.  

Read or listen to the full review or buy the book here

Brave Leadership: Unleash Your Most Confident, Powerful, and Authentic Self to Get the Results You Need by Kimberly Davis 

Many of us are scared a lot of the time. Anxious about what people think of us, anchored in our comfort zones, afraid to make mistakes, and terrified of being vulnerable.

But, former actor, now leadership expert and TEDx speaker Kimberly Davis says there's a surefire way to walk through our fear - by focusing our attention away from ourselves, and toward the impact we have on others and on the world.  

We must, she says, rise above our fears and think about the bigger picture to become good or better leaders. We need to focus on our "Super Objective," the impact we want to have outside ourselves.

Courage is an essential part of good leadership, and "Brave Leadership" provides a roadmap to help us overcome any obstacles in our way.

Leaders need to be someone people want to follow, not have to follow. Leaders, then, need to be brave.

Read or listen to the full review, read our free blog about Brave Leadership here or buy the book here.

The Diversity Bonus: How Great Teams Pay Off in the Knowledge Economy by Scott E. Page  

Many people assume hiring for diversity, is both ethical and the key to business success in the modern age. But is that really true?

Yes, agrees University of Michigan professor Scott E. Page; but only under certain conditions. And when these are met, diverse businesses enjoy higher levels of creativity, better problem solving, and more accurate forecasting. Or "diversity bonuses."  

Identity diversity involves factors like gender, race, religion, background, and age. Cognitive diversity is how people think, the knowledge they have.

And it's often this type of diversity that benefits teams and organizations the most. If you're trying to solve complex problems, Page insists it helps to have a lot of different brains in the room, with diverse approaches.  

Sign up to read or listen to the full review, or read our free blog about an experience of cognitive diversity here

You can buy the book here

About the author

Kevin Dunne

Kevin Dunne

Content Editor
Kevin has worked in journalism for over 31 years. His experience covers a variety of areas including news, music, sport and L&D, and he's been working in his current role since July 2019. His interests include the psychology of work, as well as blog writing and editing.

You may also be interested in…

Are your people too busy to learn?

Is “I’m too busy to learn,” a common phrase you hear in your organization?

May 2023

Read More

10 things managers should never say - and what to say instead

Do you think before you speak? See our roundup of the top ten things managers should never say to their team members. And tips for what you should've said.

March 2023

Read More

How to create a culture of feedback

When’s the last time someone praised your work? Or shared an idea that helped you crack a problem you’d been chewing over?

February 2023

Read More