3 Books Every Business Manager and Owner Should Read

by Don Smith

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Three teams are invited to a challenge.

The rules are simple.  Get at least one person across a simulated minefield, with the team that finishes the course in the least amount of time winning.  If a mine is triggered, the team has to start over.

The first team cautiously inches across the minefield one by one, making notes each time one of their members hits a mine.  The next person in line then moves forward, making sure to skip the mine next time.  They eventually finish the race in 30 minutes.

The next team realizes that hitting a mine is inevitable, so they repeat the same process the first team did, however they run the course at full speed.  They hit the same number of landmines, but finish the course in only 15 minutes.

The third team waits, watches, and makes notes about the mine locations while the first two teams navigate the course.  They then take their map of the course and run together, finishing the course safely in less than 5 minutes.

Which team would you want to be on?

My guess is that if this was a real life situation and not a simulation, you would prefer to know in advance where the landmines are.

This is what reading business books will do for you.  Certainly it is nearly impossible to avoid all landmines, but what you can do is learn from other people what worked and what did not.

I've read thousands if not tens of thousands of books in my lifetime, including hundreds of business books.  I've also been a manager for the last 15 years, so I know from personal experience what does and does not work.

Here are three of my favorite books, which I think everyone who is involved in running a business should read.

1.  The 5 Levels of Leadership by John Maxwell

John Maxwell breaks down leadership into 5 easy to understand levels.

  1. Position – People follow because they have to.
  2. Permission – People follow because they want to.
  3. Production – People follow because of what you have done for the organization.
  4. People Development – People follow because of what you have done for them personally.
  5. Pinnacle – People follow because of who you are and what you represent.

This is one of the easiest to follow yet most in depth looks in leadership I've ever found.  It is pretty easy to get to the first level by going the extra mile yourself and getting promoted into a management role.  Past that initial vote of confidence, it gets harder and harder.  This guide goes in depth into what it truly takes for leaders to transform themselves from someone with a title to a world class leader.

If you are a manager or business leader, The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential is a must read.

2.  Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras

Do you ever wonder what makes truly exceptional companies different from their competitors?  Jim Collins and Jerry Porras take a deep dive into this topic by pouring over the data from a six-year study of businesses from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, and extracting the habits and culture of exceptional businesses.

Looking for a study fit for a business owner or high level executive looking to take the business to the next level?  Look no farther than this excellent book.

3.  The Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey and Rebecca Merrill

Ever wish you could get your customers to quickly trust you and build trust within your organization so that things get done really quickly?  That's exactly what this book is all about, building and rebuilding trust so that things can run smoothly.  Trust is at the core of effective leadership, learning how to rapidly build it is a topic that everyone should learn.

For more of my book recommendations covering a wide variety of topics, check out my article Power Up!  – Books for Personal Development.

I hope this article has been helpful. If it has please make sure to share so that others can benefit as well!  Have a wonderful day!

About the Author 

Don Smith

Happily married with five kids, Smith owns a technology company, is the founder of this site, has served on the board of directors for multiple companies, and loves playing soccer, hiking, and mentoring.

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