russia has launched a full-scale war in Ukraine! Headway asks you to donate to the charity fund to protect Ukraine and the world’s peace. Support Ukraine

10 Best Books for Managers to Read in 2023

Looking for some good reads to help you become a successful manager? This article takes a deep dive into ten of the best management books out there.


Key points:

  • There is a wide range of management books available, each with its own focus and approach.

  • Authors like Dale Carnegie, Peter Drucker, and Stephen Covey are considered classics in the field of management.

  • More recent titles like Give and Take and Decisive offer more specific, actionable advice.

  • Management books can provide valuable insights and perspectives, but they can't teach you everything you need to know about being a manager.

  • The Headway app is a great option for busy managers who want to get the most out of their learning.

The role of a manager certainly isn't an easy one. Not only are you responsible for ensuring that your team meets its goals, but you also have to deal with the various day-to-day challenges that come with managing a group of people.

If you're looking for some guidance, you're lucky. There are a ton of great books out there that offer advice on how to be a better manager. In this article, we'll be taking a look at ten of the best.

1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

From the moment you read its title, this book isn't shy about its ultimate purpose: teaching readers the skills and abilities they need to succeed as a manager. It delves into detail on the principles of human relations, psychology, and salesmanship that are essential to success in any field.

Carnegie breaks down his lessons into digestible points, like ‘be a good listener, encourage others to talk about themselves, talk in terms of the other person's interest and make the other person feel important sincerely and honestly.’ They all come from his decades of experience in the field of self-help as a speaker, writer, and business instructor.

While published back in 1936, Dale Carnegie's advice has remained as relevant as ever in the twenty-first century. It's been printed into tens of millions of copies, translated into over 36 languages, and is considered by The New Yorker as ‘one of the best-selling books of all time.’

There's no telling how many people have been positively impacted by this book, but its timelessness is certainly a testament to Carnegie's professional insights. How to Win Friends and Influence People is an essential read for any manager looking to improve their leadership and interpersonal skills.

2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

Written by a world-renowned leadership expert, this book offers readers a powerful lesson on the subject of both personal and managerial skills. 

Covey begins by helping readers understand that in order to change their habits, they first need to change their paradigms — the way they see and understand the world. He then goes on to discuss the seven habits that are essential to success:

Habit 1: Be Proactive

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

Habit 3: Put First Things First

Habit 4: Think Win-Win

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

Habit 6: Synergize

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

Each of these habits is essential for anyone looking to improve their effectiveness as a leader. And while some of them may seem like common sense, Covey's insights and explanations on how to implement them are truly enlightening.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change has sold over 25 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 38 languages since its release in 1988. That alone should be enough to assure you of its importance, but the book's message is also timeless and relevant regardless of your industry or position.


3. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You by John C. Maxwell

To be successful, managers must hone a strong ability to lead those they oversee. This is easier said than done for some people, who, due to inclinations of personality or lack of insight, are simply unable to lead effectively. If this describes you, don't worry — there's still hope.

In his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John C. Maxwell outlines the basic principles that are essential for anyone looking to improve their leadership skills. These laws include things like ‘The Law of the Lid,’ which states that ‘the leadership potential of a person is always determined by their current level of development,’ and ‘The Law of Process,’ which posits that ‘leadership develops daily, not in a day.’

We won't spoil anything for you, but here is the ultimate theme of the book: successful management is learned, not inherited. Maxwell empowers readers to understand the dynamics of leadership on a deeper level and how they can internalize these laws for themselves.

Since its original publication in 1998, this book has garnered a sea of international acclaim, selling over 30 million copies and being translated into 50 different languages. It's highly recommended for managers who feel a little lost in their role or need some guidance in the art of leadership.

4. Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

Some people think being a good manager comes down only to an ability to delegate. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that in order to be truly good at their jobs, people in management roles need more than that - they require emotional intelligence for the interpersonal side of things.

Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman emphasizes this notion well by guiding readers through multi-chapter reasoning for an explanation of emotional intelligence in the workplace. 

In the book, Goleman states there are five core elements to emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-regulation, social skills, empathy, and motivation. He goes on to say that people with high emotional intelligence have better collaborative skills, are better at problem-solving, and tend to be more successful overall.

Daniel Goleman has decades of experience as a psychologist, scientific journalist, and writer and has compiled it all into an easy-to-read format through this book. It's definitely a great read for those looking for reputable and actionable advice they can apply to their role as a manager.

5. Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman

Sometimes, being a more effective manager comes down to understanding the role's potential in the first place. That's exactly what Liz Wiseman seeks to explain in this management book, which details everything you need to know about becoming a ‘multiplier.’

In her book, Wiseman explains that there are two different types of leaders: multipliers and diminishers. Multipliers are the leaders who get more out of their team than what was originally there; they make everyone smarter, better, and more effective. Diminishers, on the other hand, are the leaders who unknowingly deplete the intelligence and capability of those around them.

Wiseman goes on to say that the best managers are those who act as multipliers and that anyone has the ability to develop this skill set. It just takes the right mindset and a little bit of effort.

Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter was first published in 2010. Since then, the book has made its way around the world in over 20 different languages. If you're looking for a way to get the most out of your team and yourself, this is definitely the book for you.


6. Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant

While its title contradicts some popular conceptions about management roles, this book makes a strong case for the importance of giving in the workplace.

In Give and Take, author Adam Grant breaks down the three different types of people in the professional world: givers, takers, and matchers. Givers are those who are always willing to help others, often without expecting anything in return. Takers are looking out for themselves; they're the ones who are always trying to get ahead, regardless of who they have to step on to do so. Matchers are somewhere in the middle; they're willing to help others, but only if they know they'll get something out of it in the end.

Grant's research has shown that givers are often the most successful people in their respective fields. That's because they're always looking for ways to help others, and in turn, they build up a large network of contacts and allies. His book explains all of this in greater detail and provides readers with actionable advice they can use to become more giving individuals.

Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant was first published in 2013 after the award-winning researcher and highly-rated professor decided to compile his decades of study into a book. It makes amazing use of statistics, case studies, and research in tandem with Grant's own observations to explore the concept of social reciprocity in depth.

7. Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

As overseers of their respective teams, managers are responsible for making a lot of decisions. Some of these are small and inconsequential, while others can have a major impact on the company as a whole. Regardless of the size or importance of the decision, managers need to be able to make them quickly and confidently.

That's where Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work comes in. In their book, authors Chip and Dan Heath explore the concept of decision-making and provide readers with a step-by-step guide they can use to make better choices.

The Heath brothers start by breaking down the four main obstacles that prevent people from making good decisions: narrow framing, confirmation bias, short-term emotion, and overconfidence. Once these obstacles have been identified, the authors provide readers with a framework they can use to make more informed, rational decisions.

Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work was first published in 2013. The book quickly became a bestseller and has since been translated into over 33 languages. It's perfect for managers in need of some guidance or really anyone who wants to be more efficient in their decision-making.

8. First Things First by Stephen R. Covey

In today's fast-paced world, it often feels like we're constantly playing catch-up. There's always something else that needs to be done, and as a result, many of us never really get around to the things that are truly important.

In First Things First, author Stephen R. Covey explores the concept of time management and provides readers with a framework they can use to prioritize their tasks.

Covey starts by highlighting the difference between urgent and important tasks. Urgent tasks are those that require immediate attention, while important tasks are those that contribute to our long-term goals. He then goes on to provide readers with a four-quadrant model they can use to categorize and prioritize their tasks.

9. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves

As a manager, it's important to understand and control your emotions. After all, if you can't keep your emotions in check, how can you expect your team to do the same?

In Emotional Intelligence 2.0, authors Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves explore the concept of emotional intelligence and provide readers with a framework they can use to develop their own emotional intelligence.

The book starts by exploring the four main components of emotional quotient: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. It then goes on to provide readers with a series of exercises and activities they can use to develop these skills.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 was first published in 2009 and has since been translated into over 40 languages. It's perfect for managers who want to develop their emotional intelligence or really anyone who wants to better understand and control their emotions.

10. The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail by Clayton M. Christensen

In The Innovator's Dilemma, author Clayton M. Christensen explores the concept of disruptive innovation and provides readers with a framework they can use to identify and respond to disruptive innovations in their industry.

Christensen starts by identifying the three main types of disruptive innovations: low-end, new-market and sustaining. He then goes on to provide readers with a series of case studies that illustrate how these different types of disruptions have played out in various industries.

The book was first published in 1997 and quickly became a bestseller. It's perfect for managers who want to stay ahead of the curve or anyone who's interested in innovation and business.

Don’t have time to read? Try Headway!

If you don't have time to read all the books on this list but still want to get the main ideas from them, try the Headway app. Headway offers concise summaries of the most popular self-growth books, and it is a great option for busy people who want to learn new things but don't have a lot of time. With Headway, you can learn at your own pace and get personalized recommendations based on your interests. Plus, it's free to download!

Read On!

While management books can't teach you everything you need to know about being a manager, they can definitely provide you with some valuable insights and perspectives. Hopefully, this list gave you some great titles to start with. And if you want to advance your career as quickly as possible, check out our list of books with the best career tips!


What are the best management books for new managers?

Aside from those on this list, other good management books for those new to the role include The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less and The 5 Essential People Skills.

How long are management books?

The lengths of books for managers can vary. Some are shorter and easier to read, while others are longer and more in-depth. It's recommended that you choose a book based on your level of interest and expertise.

Do I need to read books to become a good manager?

No, you don't need to read hundreds of books to be a good manager. Just a few can offer up some amazing insights that can help improve your professional skills.

Join our email list with 40K+ people for more helpful insights

Read more