4 Books Every Small Business Leader Should Read

September 9, 2016 Pete Jansons


Stack of colorful books, grungy blue background, free copy space Vintage old hardback books on wooden shelf on the deck table, no labels, blank spine. Back to school. Education background

As a leader, I try to read as much as possible and gain new perspectives on business and innovation – and I encourage my team to do the same. Over the years, I’ve read so many books on leadership, influence, management and innovation, and some have made more of an impact than others. The following books speak particularly well to small business leaders, providing fresh insight that will help small business leaders think big – and stay ahead of the competition.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t
By Jim Collins

If you’ve ever looked at an amazing company and thought, “What do they have that we don’t?” Then this is the book for you. “Good to Great” is a fascinating look at what differentiates a “good” company and a “great” company. Based on a five-year study of nearly 1500 Fortune 500 companies, Good to Great singles out 11 companies – including Wells Fargo, Gillette, and Walgreens — that went from being good companies to truly outstanding organizations, and outlines the characteristics these companies share. The book is not only great storytelling, it provides valuable insight for business leaders and practical advice they can bring to their own organizations.

First, Break All the Rules
By Marcus Buckingham

Think of “First, Break All the Rules” as “From Good to Great: Management Edition.” In this eye-opening book, Marcus Buckingham outlines the qualities that great managers share – and they may surprise you. For instance, contrary to popular belief, great managers do tend to play favorites and don’t necessarily try to help employees overcome weaknesses. These are just a few of the mind-bending findings from Buckingham’s comprehensive research. This book is a must-read for managers at every level, in any industry. It will make you rethink employee engagement and performance management completely.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
By Chip and Dan Heath

As many small business owners know, even the best ideas fail at times. But what’s even more frustrating than failing is not being able to explain why something failed. In “Made to Stick,” however, authors Chip and Dan Heath attempt to do just that. They look at various success stories to reveal the qualities and factors that help certain ideas come to fruition and thrive. They also look at various techniques people use to increase the odds of success. As entertaining as it is educational, this book will make you look at innovation and leadership in a whole new way, and help you understand how to apply the rules of success to your own organizations.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard
By Chip and Dan Heath

It’s a well-known fact that humans are creatures of habit. It’s hard enough to change our own habits, let alone the habits of the people with whom we work. But in “Switch,” Chip and Dan Heath attempt to break down the barriers that make change so seemingly impossible. Using years of scientific research and case studies, the authors shed light on why we are so resistant to change and how to fix it. After reading this book, you’ll have a new understanding of how the human brain works as well as ideas to promote change both within yourself and your organization.

What leadership books would you add to this list? Tweet me at @CBpetej with your suggestions!

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