24 Must Read Business Books for your Growing Team

Mercer Smith-Looper Mercer Smith-Looper · 10 min read

Reading is a luxury—giving your employees the opportunity to read for work is incredibly valuable, both for you and for them.

One of the best benefits that you can provide for your employees is the benefit of learning. If you help your employees develop new skills, it promotes internal growth, lowers attrition and continues to benefit your company by keeping great, educated employees internal rather than looking for new opportunities.

In fact, a recent study found that companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%—there’s a benefit to giving people time to learn!

Beyond performance, reading also helps to improve the quality of life. One study showed that reading reduces stress by 68%. That’s even more so than listening to music, having a cup of tea, or taking a walk. Similarly, in the latest Quick Reads study, adults who read for 30 minutes a week reported feeling 20% more satisfied with their lives.

So, not only will encouraging your team to read boost their performance inside of work, but it will boost it outside too.

Luckily for you and for them, there are a ton of great business books out now that help kickstart that learning mindset.

Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur by Derek Sivers

Derek Sivers founded CD Baby, an early dot com business that helped distribute CDs and music merch. Eight years after its creation, he sold the business for 22 million dollars. Sivers has created a book with 40 easy-to-digest nuggets of wisdom that are valuable and applicable for CEO and CSM alike.

The book is organized into micro-personal-essays, each just a few pages in length. Some stories are heart-wrenching and hard, some are jovial and funny. It’s a balanced book to read for inspiration or guidance on what to expect moving out on a professional journey.

Chief Customer Officer 2.0: How to Build Your Customer-Driven Growth Engine by Jeanne Bliss

When asked how their customer service measures up, 71% of business leaders think they provide better customer service than their competitors. However, many customers disagree, and 44% will switch providers at the first instance of bad service. It’s supremely important for your whole company to care about the customer experience—and this book gives you the tools to do so.

All parts of a company—sales, engineering, support, success—have an impact on customer experience. Experience is becoming a primary driver and motivator in where people choose to spend their money. If your team isn’t already on board with a customer-driven growth model, this is the perfect book to get them there. Even if everyone agrees that the customer comes first, Bliss includes a number of helpful checklists and guides to make sure your company is at the right stage for your size.

Better Allies: Everyday Actions to Create Inclusive, Engaging Workplaces by Karen Catlin

Horrifyingly, 41% of managers are “too busy” to implement diversity initiatives. Don’t let that be an excuse any longer. Better Allies is a playbook to analyze how your company is currently doing with creating an inclusive, diverse work environment. It asks thought-provoking questions and gives you step-by-step instructions on how to move forward with creating a better environment for everyone.

The best part is that at the end of every chapter, Catlin summarizes the lessons you should have learned and the actions your company should take moving forward.

This is an excellent text for all members of all teams to read!

Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets by Al Ramadan

This book makes marketing strategy accessible and applicable to members of every team. It breaks down the strategy of a marketing “lightning strike” as a means to diversify your company from competitors and gain industry traction. To be a star company, it’s not about beating everybody else, it’s about being different from everyone else.

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek writes excellent business books. We would recommend all of them if it came down to it. But, for this list, specifically with a focus on cross-team applicability, Start with Why is the best.

In this book, Sinek breaks down the best practices of skillful leaders throughout the ages and discovers that all of them have had similar practices and focuses. Along with many of the other business books on this list, it provides helpful guidelines and frameworks through which to view what your company is already doing and what it could be doing better. Using these checklists as a guide, your leadership team can take an honest look at what they’re doing well, or what they may be missing.

The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle

Most people think that their company is doing better than it is. For example, 92% of CEOs report that their organization is empathetic. However, only 50% of employees would say their CEO is empathetic and understands their needs. This gap in perspective has a direct impact on the efficacy of your teams: 81% of employees would be willing to work harder and more if they felt like their employer understood where they were coming from.

All In: How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results by Chester Elton & Adrian Gostick

We are currently in a trust vacuum—no one trusts anyone else. At least not easily. That’s the premise of Chester Elton & Adrian Gostick’s book.

The two authors study and breakdown interviews with both employees and leaders at top companies like American Express, Cigna, Avis Budget, Pepsi Bottling, and Hard Rock to get a feel for what the “secret sauce” is when creating a culture where employees trust their leaders and are engaged.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Not everyone is an extrovert, and not everyone processes and communicates the same way. These are two of the main principles in Quiet, by Susan Cain. This book is useful for all humans that work within a company because it gives key communication principles when talking with a person that has a different communication preference than you.

According to the book, ⅓ of the population are introverts: people that prefer to be out of the limelight or might enjoy working on their own over with others. Given that, there’s probably a large percentage of most companies that are made up of people with this communication preference.

Radical Candor by Kim Scott

The original idea of Radical Candor became popular through a First Round Review blog post, which has since been shared over 130k times. It’s a management technique practiced by leaders like Sheryl Sandberg founded in the principle that good feedback is honest (sometimes brutally so) but rooted strongly in caring personally. Sounds interesting? Pick up this great read to learn more about embracing Radical Candor.

radical condor

Buy-In: Saving Your Good Idea from Getting Shot Down by John P Kotter

Buy-In and Leading Change got you thinking about how buy-in and change management works. Together, they frame buy-in as something you DO rather than something you GET. They can help you stop thinking about “office politics” and more about collaborative processes for making meaningful contributions to an organization. And we think they’re effective for people at any level in their careers, at any level in an organization.

buy in Kotler

High Output Management by Andy Grove

In High Output Management, Andrew S. Grove, former chairman and CEO (and employee number three) of Intel, shares his perspective on how to build and run a company. 

The book covers techniques for creating highly productive teams, demonstrating methods of motivation that lead to peak performance. It’s a practical handbook for navigating real-life business scenarios. 

This book was recommended by a member of from Support Driven community, Henry. He says that “the stagger forecasting charts that it covers are really useful,” and that he’s been using them since joining his last team. It definitely impacts how you think about maximizing output potential – important in a growing team.

output input Andrew Grove

Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen

The purpose of this book is to teach us how to turn evaluations, advice, criticisms, and coaching into productive listening and learning. It combines the latest insights from neuroscience and psychology with practical advice, teaches readers how to turn feedback into productive listening and learning.

“Even when it’s off base, unfair, poorly delivered, and frankly, you’re not in the mood” – states the note on the cover of this recommended book about receiving feedback. 

Turn the Ship Around by L. David Marquet

Turn the Ship Around focuses on change management – in particular, changing a bad situation into a good one. No matter your business position. You can apply the guidelines of Intent-Based Leadership and turn your own ship around. 

The book was published in 2013 and thousands of readers have been inspired by former Navy captain David Marquet’s true story. 

Read it if you need to drastically change course.

Turn ship around

Badass by Kathy Sierra

Badass is all about making your customers as successful as possible – great for product and customer success people!

It’s a book with tons of stock photos, diagrams, flow charts, and relatively little text, but the format works, and it conveys the key themes of the book in a clear and memorable way.


The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

In The Power of Habit, award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg takes you to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. 

It takes you from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to the sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement. Duhigg presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential. Along the way, you learn why some people and companies struggle to change, despite years of trying, while others seem to remake themselves overnight. 

Of The Power of Habit, Lisa from Support Driven community says “it is excellent and weirdly gripping – I read it on an overnight plane journey and was hooked.”

The power of habit - business books

The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success by William N. Thorndike

This book focuses on the stories of CEOs who shunned traditional advice and grew extremely successful companies. Their firms’ average returns outperformed the S&P 500 by a factor of twenty—in other words, an investment of $10,000 with each of these CEOs, on average, would have been worth over $1.5 million twenty-five years later.  

Author Will Thorndike brings to bear the analytical wisdom of a successful career in investing, closely evaluating the performance of companies and their leaders. 

The Outsiders was #1 on Warren Buffet’s recommended reading list in 2012.

THe outsiders -  business books

Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam Grant

Adam Grant focuses on how social economics rewards the givers more than the takers when it comes to personal success. He examines the surprising forces that shape why some people rise to the top of the success ladder while others sink to the bottom. 

Give and Take highlights what effective networking, collaboration, influence, negotiation, and leadership skills have in common.

This book was praised by bestselling authors such as Dan Ariely, Susan Cain, Dan Gilbert -as well as senior leaders from Google, McKinsey, Merck, Estee Lauder, Nike, and NASA. 

Give and take - business books

Tribal Leadership by Dave Logan, Halee Fischer-Wright and John King

In the New York Times #1 bestseller Tribal Leadership, you’ll learn why the success of a company depends on its tribes. The strength of its tribes is determined by the tribal culture, and a thriving corporate culture can only be established by an effective tribal leader. 

It talks about the different stages of culture in a company and offers strategies on how to move from one level to the next. It can make you realize that you’d been operating at an “I’m Great (and You’re Not)” stage for most of the career.

tribal leadership - business books

Effortless Experience by Matt Dixon

Effortless Experience is an enormously influential book about the power of making things easy for your customers. It’s the book that launched the customer effort score metric, and it’s changed customer support philosophy.

The Effortless Experience takes readers on a journey deep inside the customer experience to reveal what makes customers loyal—and disloyal. The authors lay out the 4 key pillars of low-effort customer experience, along the way delivering robust data, shocking insights, and profiles of companies that are already using the principles revealed by CEB’s research, with great results.

efforthless experience

When Generations Collide by David Stillman and Lynne C. Lancaster

This is a must-read book that reflects four separate generations working side-by-side. The insightful book provides hands-on methods to close the generational gaps between traditionalist employees, baby boomers, generation Xers and Millenials.

Generational experts Lynne C. Lancaster and David Stillman shed much-needed light on how to bridge generational gaps at work by understanding the differences that drive generations apart.

business books

Not Everyone Gets a Trophy by Bruce Tulgan

The demographic makeup of the office is changing. As millennials become managers and the majority of the workforce, new skills and strategies will be required to work together effectively. 

This book is a great addition to the book When Generations Collide. It provides employers with a practical framework for engaging, developing, and retaining the new generation of employees.

business books

Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World by David Eagleman and Anthony Brandt

 New York Times bestselling author and neuroscientist David Eagleman teamed up with composer Anthony Brandt and created a book full of information about human creativity. They explore how individuals, organizations, and educational institutions can benefit from fostering creativity while celebrating humanity’s unique ability to remake the world.

It can spell out some big differences between humans and other animals. The authors talk about how humans seek to “…astonish others, to amaze, and to inject wonder, surprise, and incredulity.” 

business books

Leadership Step by Step by Joshua Spodek

The book Leadership Step by Step walks readers through what to do and how to do it by taking them through an integrated and comprehensive progression of exercises designed to cultivate key abilities, behaviors, and beliefs through experience.

 Each chapter opens with a story demonstrating a vital leadership skill, but it doesn’t stop there. Because next, it guides you through the process of developing that skill for yourself!

Every review of this book mentions how practical the advice is. If you’re new to management, or just want some inspiration to improve your leadership skills, this is the book for you.

Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz

It’s a former FBI hostage negotiators guide to the secrets of negotiation and how to apply it.

 Never Split the Difference takes you inside the world of high-stakes negotiations and into Voss’s head, revealing the skills that helped him and his colleagues to succeed where it mattered most: saving lives. 

Being able to negotiate with customers is a very handy customer service skill, so don’t hesitate to pick this one up!

business books


Reading is a luxury—giving your employees the opportunity to read for work is incredibly valuable, both for you and for them.

There are so many things to learn that can benefit everyone both personally and professionally. These 24 business books are a great, guided stepping stone into working more collaboratively with other teams and striving to align and understand where each opportunity for contribution stands. Enjoy!

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Mercer Smith-Looper Mercer Smith-Looper

Mercer is the Head of Support at Appcues, a yoga fanatic, and strives to make the world a little bit happier one customer at a time. You can find her at mercenator.com and on Twitter at @mercenator.

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