9 Great reads for leaders this World Book Day

World Book Day is ushered in by a familiar stampede of parents buying children’s costumes, buoyed by savvy marketing tie-ins. At its heart however, the day is intended to be a celebration of reading.

Those of us with children are encouraged to develop their literacy though a love of books. But how do we keep the love of reading alive for ourselves in often busy lives? 

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.”  

Some of the busiest and most successful people in the world carve out plenty of time to read because they recognise its value. Bill Gates is a famously voracious reader who reportedly said “Every book teaches me something new or helps me see things differently. Reading fuels a sense of curiosity about the world, which I think helped drive me forward in my career”.    

Some of life’s best books come to us recommended by friends, family and colleagues. For this World Book Day we’ve pulled together a list of books on leadership, management and other topics that our team have enjoyed. 

The Future is Asian, by Parag Khanna

Harriet de Swiet, Managing Director APAC

“I highly recommend The Future is Asian, by Parag Khanna. Essential reading for anyone in a global role who wants to understand more about the changing global economy. It will help you get under the skin of this wonderful, diverse, challenging and exciting place. Reading this reminded me to keep challenging myself and our clients and colleagues to be more globally and culturally aware."

What has nature ever done for us, by Tony Juniper

Sarah Sadie, Client Capability Director, Leadership

What has nature ever done for us, by Tony Juniper is about the value of nature, and the ‘natural services’ nature provides for us and our economy. It’s full of examples of how humans have destroyed eco-systems, to our own detriment. It’s also very uplifting though, with wonderful examples of how innovators in all fields have found ways for regenerating our earth compatible with economic success. It’s critical reading to get your head around the huge responsibility we all face to tackle this challenge, regardless of your specific job role."

Extreme Teaming by Amy Edmondson

Another recommendation from Sarah Sadie, Amy Edmondson is the academic (and Ted talker) behind the powerful concept of psychological safety. "This book explores the premise that ‘teams’ are not constant anymore. Thus, our focus should really shift to thinking about ‘teaming’ as a process, not a static noun. She tells the fascinating story of how teams operated to save 33 Chilean miners from 700m underground in just 69 days, an astonishing feat. Relevant for anybody studying agile ways of working, leadership, employee engagement.”   

The Brain - The Story of You by David Eagleman

Mhairi McEwan, Executive President and Co-Founder

“This is very accessible, and fascinating. Written by a neuroscientist, it brings to life what makes you uniquely ‘you’. It explains that what you focus on, and don’t focus on, physically shapes your brain. Every single experience shapes us. The schools we went to, where we live, the family life we have, the jobs we do, the friends we have, what we eat, what films we saw, what books we read. So, choose wisely!"

Invisible Women, Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez

Sarah Jones, Brand Director

“An eye-opening read. It details the astonishing way in which half the population is systematically ignored, with wide ranging implications. From the average smartphone being 5.5 inches too big for the average woman’s hand, to women being 47% more likely to be injured in car accidents. It should be essential reading for anyone – male or female - in a position to influence decisions about products, services and solutions for people’s lives.”

Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

Olivia Edwardson, Project Coordinator

“Matt Haig writes about the challenges he faced with his mental health in the hope people will benefit from knowing they aren’t alone. It’s a book that really brings you back to the centre, no matter how stressed/nervous you could be feeling. It’s also great to read if you know someone who’s feeling particularly stressed or anxious, from the perspective of supporting someone going through those challenges.”

The Source by Dr Tara Swart

Ana Maria Santos, Managing Director, US and LatAm

“I recommend this book by Tara Swart a respected neuroscientist who speaks on our Marketing Leaders Programme. She explains how the brain influences everything we do. It’s full of insight into how we can better understand how to lead when we know about how our brain works.”

Our Iceberg is Melting, by Dr. John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber

Tara Benjamin, Sales Capability Director

“At first glance this is a story about a colony of penguins, facing a difficult dilemma. Really though, it’s a book about managing change, including facing your fears about it. No one is immune from change in the world around us, and many of us face significant changes at organisations during our careers. This is a great read if you’re a leader, involved in change management or are experiencing change where you work.”

Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker

Mark Beales, Managing Director UK and EMEA

“Ashamed as I am to say it, I always thought of sleep as a bit inconvenient, slightly wasteful, and something that gets in the way of spending time doing things I want or need to do. Having read this book I had no idea how busy our bodies are when we’re asleep. During sleep we are processing thoughts (that’s where “I think I’ll sleep on it” comes from!), embedding learning, repairing neural pathways. It’s a nightly spring clean of our mind and body. Written by Matthew Walker, neuroscientist and sleep researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, the science is explained in a very accessible way.  A thoroughly stimulating read.”

For more good reads check out our leadership resources and latest research.


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