The path to career advancement requires a lot of things: being in the right place at the right time, maintaining a good reputation, developing relationship skills, having key insight, enhancing your leadership abilities, and downright good luck. While there are career coaches and seminars galore to help you refine career-enhancing skills, perhaps the easiest, low-cost way to grow is to read.
While it might seem more exciting to thumb through the latest Stephen King novel or another volume of the Shopaholic series, reading a book to help you sort through career issues or gain some kind of skill you don’t yet have, would be really good for your future. Not only will you come away knowing more about a topic; you can share your knowledge with your colleagues and peers to help them as well.
The following list of career-advancing books is by no means definitive—and is presented in no certain order—but it does offer a variety of career and life-focused reads to help you further your career, along with nuggets of wisdom to apply in your day-to-day life.
Recommendation #1: Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin
Seth Godin is a must-read in any list of books about business, society, or career; Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? is a must-read regarding career and personal development. The book encourages you to showcase your brilliance and artistry, no matter what your field. This somewhat controversial book offers a way to make yourself indispensable in the workplace—in other words, to become a linchpin. While many dispute the intelligence of an organization finding one person indispensable, the ideas behind getting there will make you think about what you are doing and why.
Recommendation #2: Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler.
Career success begins with the ability to communicate, whether with a client, at a staff meeting, in a trade show, or just casually in the coffee room. The better able you are to navigate the world of personal communication, the more successful you’ll be. The authors of this book focus on crucial conversations: defined chats where stakes are high, opinions vary, or emotions are running strong. We all know these conversations occur everyday in business and our personal lives. (Better yet, look for the two-day CPE training on this topic. It’s absolutely worth the time and investment!)
Recommendation #3: Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink
Whether thinking about the type of job you want, the organization you work in, or your own personal motivation, Daniel Pink’s Drive will raise awareness of something you probably already know: working isn’t only about the money. Based on decades of scientific research on human motivation, his conclusion is based on decades of scientific research on human motivation. He says people are motivated by three elements:
- Autonomy, the desire to have control over our own lives
- Mastery, we need to learn to master the tasks we undertake
- Purpose, we need to buy-in to why we are doing things
The final section of the books contains tools for individuals and organizations to improve their motivation and drive.
Recommendation #4: Listening: The Forgotten Skill, A Self-Teaching Guide by Madelyn Burley-Allen
Poor listening equals poor outcomes. For everyone. Listening, available through the AICPA Store, helps readers acquire active and productive listening skills to use professionally, socially, and personally. Among other skills, you’ll learn how to:
- Eliminate distractions and improve your concentration on what is being said
- Locate key words, phrases, and ideas while listening
- Cut through your own listening biases
- Interpret body language clues
Recommendation #5: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
Told in the style of a leadership fable, Lencioni uses storytelling to outline five dysfunctions of teams and how to overcome them. The fable hinges around a newly appointed CEO of an at-risk start up who must help the leadership team work together to help the company succeed.
Lencioni defines the five dysfunctions of a team:
- Absence of trust
- Fear of conflict
- Lack of commitment
- Avoidance of accountability
- Inattention to results
Recommendation #6: The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
A children’s book, you say? I read that when I was seven! Well, dust it off and get it out again. Reading children’s books as an adult can provide added insight into yourself and the moral of the story. Published in 1922, The Velveteen Rabbit is a classic book about learning who you are and becoming real.
Recommendation #7: Work Less, Make More: Stop Working So Hard and Create the Life Your Really Want by Jennifer White
Success coach Jennifer White introduces a 10-step way for “overcoming your fears, unblocking your passions, channeling your energies, and managing your time more efficiently.” Available through the AICPA Store, this book offers simple tips, such as focusing on 3 things to accomplish each day, to more complex, self-introspective ideas.
What are some of your favorite business books that help you with your career, goals, and leadership skills? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll print your recommendations in an upcoming issue of Edge.