From bartering to crypto, business is as old of a tradition as any, and wherever there’s a team of business professionals, there is some form of business management. Of course, as with everything, things change with time. What we’re effectively “trading” changes, our attitudes towards business practices change, and, of course, how we handle business management changes.
Modern times (and modern business) will always call for fresh and updated styles of management, often incorporating new discoveries in psychology and sociology, in order to motivate a more effective business environment given the modern context. It isn’t always obvious what the golden management styles are going to turn out to be, but luckily, some ingenious people tend to come along and give us a few pointers on what’s going to work in business today. Let’s take a look at the three best books, in my opinion, on business management.
In this great book, Simon Sinek differentiates between two mindsets: the finite and the infinite. These two mindsets correspond to the two different types of games discussed, finite games and infinite games, and give us some insight into why certain businesses stick around, and why certain businesses seem to be huge for a while before ducking into irrelevancy (or bankruptcy).
Finite games have set rules, set players, and a set timeframe. In business, you might consider quarters or even years as finite games. You more or less know who you’re competing with and, in this finite time frame, you can compare results with your competitors through different metrics. Maximizing the results in these finite periods is, more or less, how businesses are traditionally run.
This can’t be all there is to it, however. If we remember quite a few years back, Blockbuster was at the top of their game. Without a doubt, they were edging out any competition on a quarterly basis. When consumer interest shifted to streaming and subscription services, though, Blockbuster doubled down on their usual business model. In what seemed like a blink of the eye, this nationwide household brand name had to shut its doors forever. They were so focused on the finite game that the infinite game left them far behind.
An infinite mindset transcends these finite reports and metrics, and pushes a business and its team members to chase more timeless goals—namely, a purpose. Carving out an authentic purpose and driving your business behind it is one secret to maintaining relevance, to building a better workplace environment, and to see better results on the board overall. All of this and more can be found in Simon Sinek’s fantastic book.
We just mentioned how an infinite mindset is usually accompanied by an authentic purpose. If you’re curious to learn more about this authentic purpose, look no further than Zach Mercurio’s The Invisible Leader.
Zach is not only a business expert, but also a researcher, and his research in motivation and the workplace is exactly what takes a starring role in this book. Although called The Invisible Leader, the title of the book doesn’t reference a business leader with a certain leadership style. Rather, the invisible leader has a purpose. As Zach chronicles, research shows that the best performing businesses are purpose driven—and purpose means real, authentic purpose. Sure, everybody needs a paycheck, and a promotion doesn’t hurt, but what’s the real purpose behind your work?
Tapping into this authentic purpose can be tricky, but it’s the secret behind not only running a successful and efficient business, but also building a healthy and encouraging environment in which workers thrive and are excited to be engaged in. Throughout the book, Zach shows the reader how to find and tap into authentic purpose for individuals, as well as for leaders. This is a must read for anybody who thinks their team and/or business is simply going through the motions.
Finally, you shouldn’t really make a list like this if you aren’t going to include Clint Pulver’s I Love It Here. The previous two books are fantastic reads written by experts and backed by research, but it’s always good to have the other side’s perspective: the employees. That’s exactly what Clint brings to the table. I Love It Here is a book that compiles direct research and sampling from employees themselves, putting together what employees feel works in management, and what doesn’t.
If you’ve ever heard of the mentor manager, that comes from this book. The best leaders invest time and effort in their team, and make sure their team members have the time and ability to grow as individuals within the scope of the business. Time and effort invested in team members translates to time and effort team members invest in the company—it’s really that simple.
Building a workplace environment where people are excited to engage and stick around is getting more and more difficult, which can make building a strong team that is going to perform well down the line tricky. With this book, you’ll have special and important insights into what makes a workplace great, and what practices are going to leave you scrambling to fill vacancies.
This list, of course, is far from exhaustive. However, if you could only read three management books, it’d be hard to change this list up in a positive way. Happy reading!
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