Summer reading list: 9 "People-People" books to throw in your beach bag

Book Beach

6 mins, 5 secs read time

Cue the flip flops, the sunscreen, and the evening BBQs—summer is officially upon us! Now that the days are longer and the weather is warmer, many of us will be enjoying more and more time outside. Whether relaxing at the beach or lounging poolside, we all need something to do in between the swimming and snoozing. How about a great book to dive into?

All you “people-people” out there are in luck! We’ve compiled a list of 9 books for you to explore, sure to make you think about talent acquisition, people practices, workplace dynamics, and yourself in new ways. Check out our list of books below—and have more to show for your summer than just your tan!

1. “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” by Daniel Pink

Most people believe that the best way to motivate is with rewards like money—the carrot-and-stick approach. But that's a mistake. Pink asserts that the secret to high performance and satisfaction—at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.


2. "WORK RULES! Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead" by Laszlo Bock

"We spend more time working than doing anything else in life. It's not right that the experience of work should be so demotivating and dehumanizing," says Bock. Drawing on the latest research in behavioral economics and a profound grasp of human psychology, Bock provides teaching examples from a range of industries and reveals why Google is consistently rated one of the best places to work.

Work Rules!

3. "Who" by Geoff Smart and Randy Street

Smart and Street provide a simple, practical, and effective solution to what The Economist calls “the single biggest problem in business today”: unsuccessful hiring. Based on more than 1,300 hours of interviews and research, Smart and Street present the A Method for Hiring, stressing fundamental elements that anyone can implement—and, not to mention, it has a 90% success rate!


4. "Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long" by David Rock

Travel inside the minds of two stressed working parents, Emily and Paul, as they attempt to sort the vast quantities of information they're presented with, figure out how to prioritize it, organize it, and act on it. With his knowledge on how the brain works, particularly in a work setting, Rock shows how it's possible for Emily and Paul, and thus you, to not only survive in today's overwhelming work environment but to succeed in it—and still feel energized and accomplished at the end of the day.

Your Brain at Work

5. "Good to Great" by Jim Collins

Collins' bestseller Built to Last showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the very beginning. But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, and even bad companies achieve enduring greatness? Using tough benchmarks, Collins identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least 15 years. Find out exactly how these companies achieved greatness—and what they did differently than the ones that didn't.

Good to Great

6. "Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World" by General Stanley McChrystal

It’s no secret that in any field, small teams have many ad­vantages—they can respond quickly, communicate freely, and make decisions without layers of bureaucracy. But organizations taking on really big challenges can’t fit in a garage. They need management practices that can scale to thousands of people. General McChrystal led a hierarchical, highly disci­plined machine of thousands of men and women. But to defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq, his Task Force would have to acquire the enemy’s speed and flexibility. Was there a way to combine the power of the world’s mightiest military with the agility of the world’s most fearsome terrorist network? If so, could the same principles apply in civilian organizations? In this book, General McChrystal and his colleagues show how the challenges they faced in Iraq can be rel­evant to companies, too. The world is changing faster than ever, and the smartest response for those in charge is to give small groups the freedom to experiment while driving every­one to share what they learn across the entire organization.

Team of Teams

7. "Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization" by Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright

Within each corporation are anywhere from a few to hundreds of separate tribes. Logan, King, and Fischer-Wright demonstrate how these tribes develop and show you how to assess them and lead them to maximize productivity and growth. This book is an essential tool to help managers and business leaders take better control of their organizations by utilizing the unique characteristics of the tribes that exist within.

Tribal Leadership

8. "First Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently" by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

The greatest managers in the world seem to have little in common. They differ in sex, age, and race, and they employ vastly different styles and focus on different goals. Yet despite their differences, great managers share one common trait: They do not hesitate to break virtually every rule held sacred by conventional wisdom. They do not believe that, with enough training, a person can achieve anything he sets his mind to, nor do they try to help people overcome their weaknesses. They consistently disregard the golden rule. And, yes, they even play favorites. In their book, Buckingham and Coffman present a Gallup study of more than 80,000 managers, revealing what the world’s greatest managers do differently.

First, Break All the Rules

9. "Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard" by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Why is it so hard to make lasting changes in our companies, in our communities, and in our own lives? The primary obstacle is a conflict that’s built into our brains. Psychologists have discovered that our minds are ruled by two different systems—the rational mind and the emotional mind—that compete for control. The rational mind wants a great beach body; the emotional mind wants that Oreo cookie. The rational mind wants to change something at work; the emotional mind loves the comfort of the existing routine. This tension can doom a change effort—but if it is overcome, change can come quickly. The Heaths show how everyday people like employees and managers have united both minds and, as a result, achieved dramatic results.


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