Earlier this week I wrote about how as part of my personal goals last year, I challenged myself to read a business or leadership book every month. If you missed the post, you can get up to speed here.

So what do I recommend?

What should you be reading in 2018?

  1. Simon Sinek. Read whatever you can that he publishes. You can also go onto youtube and watch his amazing TED Talks and interviews. I know I’m kind of gushing, but this guy is the best leadership / organisational development voice out there right now. Seriously.
  2. 50 Top Tools for Employee Engagement. I loved this book and even though I received it free as an advanced reader copy, I actually went ahead and purchased it once published because it just has so many fantastic, actionable, ideas for any workplace.
  3. Start reading and researching more about generational differences in the workplace because it won’t be long until there are more millennials in the workplace than anyone else. Mccrindle researchers have great blog posts and infographics and is a nice place to start.
  4. You can also take a look at my reviews from last year and see what interests you. Perhaps something that wasn’t really up my alley will be more relevant to your work, or you may agree that something I loved will work for you too!

In the last post I shared with you the first 10 books I read last year, and now here is my final 9.


Book reviews, part two

11.Myths of Leadership: Banish the Misconceptions and Become a Great Leader by Jo Owen

Myths of Leadership: Banish the Misconceptions and Become a Great LeaderMy rating: 4 of 5 stars

As the title suggests, this is a book full of “myths” about leadership rather than a list of how to be a leader. There are over 50 myths and the author explains what the myth is, why it is a myth and what you can do instead. As he says, this book “is a map. It shows you what your options are, where some of the pitfalls are, and lets you decide where you want to go on your leadership journey”.

I’ve read many leadership books, and I still find I get something out of each because there really is no single definition or desired style of leadership. I made about 30 highlights throughout my reading such as “Career managers will experience career as a noun; leaders experience career as a verb”.
Most of the myths in this book I agreed with, some I didn’t, but that is ok because each one only lasts several pages ūüėČ . Although I did find the book was perhaps a little long. By the time we got to myth 50 I was a bit “mythed-out” and wondered when it would end. So maybe this is book better read in chunks with some time in between. The style certainly enables you to just pick a section and have a flick through rather than needing to go from cover to cover.

I’d recommend this book to HR professionals and anyone that aspires to be, or is, a leader. It is not aimed at a certain seniority level and doesn’t require any prior knowledge of leadership theories.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.


12. One Minute Mentoring by Claire Díaz-Ortiz

One Minute Mentoring
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I suppose this sticks out amongst other mentoring books because it is one of the “one minute” series, but also the book is told in a allegorical style ; with tips through the story and then at the end.
I’ll be honest, it is not my favourite style. And I didn’t feel like I really walked away from reading this with any new information. (Disclaimer I have run mentoring programs and been a mentor a number of times). So perhaps this is best suited as an introduction to mentoring and why you may want to consider being a mentee or mentor. I do intend to try some other books on the subject to see if there is any new, contemporary information out there.

13.Effective People Management: Your Guide to Boosting Performance, Managing Conflict and Becoming a Great Leader in Your Start Up by Pat Wellington

Effective People Management: Your Guide to Boosting Performance, Managing Conflict and Becoming a Great Leader in Your Start UpMy rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is aimed squarely at start up businesses that are starting to grow and employ staff and need to start considering people management and leadership.
It is peppered with case studies and divided into sections such as growing your business, recruitment, performance management etc. so can be read in chunks as you find the section you need at the time rather than needing to complete as one read.

It really is difficult to put into one book all the best tips and ideas on such a broad topic like people management, and I think the author has given it a good try. As stated, the focus of this book is on entrepreneurs and start ups, but I think at times the audience wasn’t considered and the content was more for bigger, or more mature, businesses. There were also some strong opinions that I didn’t necessarily agree with (such as having a strict agenda with no “general business” for meetings. I understand the reasons given, but I also feel like this can stifle innovative thought and creative thinking if no-one can talk off agenda).

In summary, a good little read to have in your arsenal if you have a small business and no HR support and no clue as to what you need to do when it comes to people management basics. You may just find a few tips that really make a difference to your business, until you can engage a HR consultant to help you drive performance and profitability.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.


14.The Human Workplace: People-Centred Organizational Development by Andy Swann

The Human Workplace: People-Centred Organizational DevelopmentMy rating: 3 of 5 stars

When it comes to business books I always like to understand what the author is trying to help you with. Is it a practical book with actionable items? A research paper crammed into a book or a review of theory? Or is it their own ideas put on a page for you to pick what works for you?
In this book it is mostly Swann putting his ideas, based on his experiences, together and allowing you to try and synthesise them into how it may work for you. For some people I’m sure this is fine, but I’m always interested in a bit more of a deep dive. -What Experiences? Why? What’s the alternative?- and I felt he was quite light on in that department.
I did like the definition of a human workplace and why it matters and I think for many people this may be an eye-opener, especially if they have businesses which have grown quickly or where they have been more focused on numbers than people. So if the point of the book is for you to “reframe your perspective” then it may just do that.
The biggest take-away for me was that a human workplace considers employees as end-users. They can have the same characteristics as customers (e.g. loyalty, brand ambassadors), but only if you set up a workplace that understands and nurtures them as you would a customer.
I would recommend this book for small business owners or anyone that wonders how they can develop and grow their business while bringing their people along in a positive way.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.


15. How To Have A Beautiful Mind by Edward de Bono

How To Have A Beautiful MindMy rating: 3 of 5 stars

This felt like a remedial communications class, especially to start. I would hate for that to sound disparaging, but it’s the best word I can think of to describe it.
This is the book I would give someone who needs coaching in Emotional Intelligence in the communications realm or for someone to whom English is a second language and they struggle with the social nuances of communicating.


16. Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono

Six Thinking HatsMy rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, de Bono does rather like himself continually reminding us of his creations including the term “lateral thinking”, but don’t let that stop you from reading and understanding the six thinking hats directly from him.
I’ve seen the concept used in ways it was not designed to be (calling someone a “yellow hat thinker” for example. The idea is that we ALL use all the hats) and the concept is easy to understand although does take practice to administer.
If it has been a while since you have read this, or learnt about the method, I’d suggest having a read as you may find a really good use for six hat thinking at home, or work.


17.Transformational HR: How Human Resources Can Create Value and Impact Business Strategy by Perry Timms

Transformational HR: How Human Resources Can Create Value and Impact Business StrategyMy rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an interesting review of HR, and particularly the much used (or is that overused?) Ulrich model.
Timms very much focuses on HR becoming more like IT, with project based delivery using the Agile framework, and although there are some organisations – large white collar ones – where this may work I’m sceptical about it having broad application. For organisations with a single HR person it is hard to find where these ideas could be implemented effectively.

I agree with Timms that there must be a transformation of HR and that the business partner Ulrich model often is ineffective. However, HR can be so complex and organisation-dependent as to it’s focus (leadership, IR, personnel etc.) that I really don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all model. I think we are better off concentrating on what skills and core competencies HR practitioners need to have and how that translates to the workplace. In essence, what is the purpose of HR and then build your team from that purpose.

A read I’d recommend to any HR practitioner that knows the function isn’t “quite right” and would like some thought provocation.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.


18. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck

Mindset: The New Psychology of SuccessMy rating: 3 of 5 stars

The idea of a “growth mindset” is a simple one, but quite profound for many people who have grown up believing that talents and abilities are “fixed”. A growth mindset is possessed by those who believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work.
Not sure where you sit? You can take a questionnaire here.

Because it is such a simple concept, I found the book a bit repetitive and I think it could have benefited from more around how to develop and change your fixed mindset, rather than continually trying to prove why having a growth mindset is better.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in self development, who is a teacher/trainer, or has children!


19. B2B Marketing Strategy: Differentiate, Develop and Deliver Lasting Customer Engagement by Heidi Taylor

B2B Marketing Strategy: Differentiate, Develop and Deliver Lasting Customer EngagementMy rating: 3 of 5 stars

Running a B2B company, this book caught my eye. Who can’t use new perspectives on marketing strategies?
Heidi spends some time on how marketing has changed with the Internet and social media, but also on the definition of a strategy and how that is different to your objectives and initiatives.
I did feel like the book was better aimed at marketing professionals rather than business owners and I would recommend it to marketers interested in other ideas and opinions.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.


What’s next for 2018?

Well I have a few books lined up ready, but I also start my University (post-grad) coursework again at the end of this month which will soak up a lot of reading time. However, I would like to keep the same goal and read 12 business or leadership books again this year. Would you like to join me?

You can also make sure you never miss a post my signing up for my newsletter. Don’t worry, it is only once a month, one page, and never spammy.