12 Recommended Books for your 2021 Reading List

The beginning of a new year means creating new personal resolutions and goals. What about resolutions for your future career? Even though it's almost February, it's not too late to add one more resolution: read one book per month. We hope these books can help provide a moment of peace from a busy schedule, spark a new idea at a meeting, or help inspire your professional goals.

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. —Joseph Addison

Here you'll find 12 books to take you through January 2022; books on leadership development and the future of work, books on digital transformation and technology trends, and books on diversity in the workplace.

Books Addressing Leadership Development & The Future of Work

The Adaptation Advantage book coverThe Adaptation Advantage by Heather McGowan & Chris Shipley

Renowned future-of-work strategist Heather E. McGowan is co-author with Chris Shipley of The Adaptation Advantage. Adaptability, they argue, is the most significant determinant of success for individuals and organizations, now and in the future. Of course, making this transition is hard. It requires leaders who can attract and motivate cognitively diverse teams fueled by a strong sense of purpose in an environment of psychological safety―despite fierce competition and external pressures.   Adapting to the future of work has always called for strong leadership. Now, as a pandemic disrupts so many aspects of work, adapting is a leadership imperative. The Adaptation Advantage is an essential guide to help leaders meet that challenge. Read more here.

The Art of Choosing book coverThe Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar

Every day we make choices. Coke or Pepsi? Save or spend? Stay or go? Whether mundane or life-altering, these choices define us and shape our lives. Sheena Iyengar asks the difficult questions about how and why we choose: Is the desire for choice innate or bound by culture? Why do we sometimes choose against our best interests? How much control do we really have over what we choose? Columbia Business School professor Sheena Iyengar, one of the world’s leading scholars on the subject of choice, answers these questions and raises many more in The Art of Choosing. Her book explores the practice of choice across cultures, examines the role of choice in motivation and performance, and presents stunning revelations about how and why we choose, and how we can choose better. Read more here.

The Great Economists book coverThe Great Economists: How Their Ideas Can Help Us Today by Linda Yueh

In The Great Economists: How Their Ideas Can Help Us Today, Yueh looks at current economic questions through the lens of some of the most influential thinkers in history: Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes, Milton Friedman, Karl Marx, Joseph Schumpeter and other greats. After first putting the economists and their theories into the historical context of their respective times, Yueh then applies their thinking to some of the pressing questions of our time. How might Joan Robinson explain sluggish wage growth, today? How would Alfred Marshall view growing income inequality? What can we learn from the global financial crisis through the eyes of Friedrich Hayak? And finally, what would the great economists make of the backlash against globalization? Read more here.

It Starts with Clients book coverIt Starts with Clients: Your 100-Day Plan to Build Lifelong Relationships and Revenue by Andrew Sobel

Your clients are the oxygen that gives life to your business. Everything starts with clients. Andrew Sobel has taught his clients-for-life strategies to over 50,000 professionals around the world. His books have sold more than 250,000 copies and been translated into 21 languages. His ninth book, It Starts with Clients, encapsulates nearly four decades of experience and the findings from over 25 years of unique research to help you build lifelong relationships and revenue. Read more here.

Strategy Beyond book coverStrategy Beyond the Hockey Stick: People, Probabilities, and Big Moves to Beat the Odds by Chris Bradley, Martin Hirt, & Sven Smit

McKinsey & Company’s newest, most definitive, and most irreverent book on strategy—which thousands of executives are already using—is a must-read for all C-suite executives looking to create winning corporate strategies. Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick is spearheading an empirical revolution in the field of strategy. Based on an extensive analysis of the key factors that drove the long-term performance of thousands of global companies, the book offers a ground-breaking formula that enables you to objectively assess your strategy’s real odds of future success. This is not another strategy framework. Rather, Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick shows, through empirical analysis and the experiences of dozens of companies that have successfully made multiple big moves, that to dramatically improve performance, you have to overcome incrementalism and corporate inertia.

Books Exploring Digital Transformation & Tech Trends

The Day After Tomorrow book coverThe Day After Tomorrow by Peter Hinssen 

In ‘The Day After Tomorrow’, Peter writes about an exponentially changing world and its consequences for organizations of Today. He introduces those pioneers who managed to move (way) beyond Tomorrow-thinking in innovation and were able to change the course of entire industries. Above all, he writes about the business models, the organizational structures, the talent, the mindset, the technologies and the cultures needed to maximize our chances for survival in the Day After Tomorrow. Read more here. 

Innovation-Friendly Organization book coverThe Innovation-Friendly Organization by Anna Simpson

This book explores five cultural traits – Diversity, Integrity, Curiosity, Reflection, and Connection – that encourage the birth and successful development of new ideas, and shows how organizations that are serious about innovation can embrace them. Innovation – the driver of change and resilience – It is totally dependent on culture, the social environment which shapes how ideas emerge and evolve. Ideas need to breathe, and culture determines the quality of the air. If it’s stuffy and lacks flow, then no idea, however brilliant, will live long enough to fulfil its potential. Anna Simpson shows how large organizations can adapt their culture to enable the exchange of different perspectives; to support each person to bring their whole self to their work; to embrace the aimlessness that fosters creative experimentation; to take the time to approach change with the care it deserves, and – lastly – to develop the collective strength needed to face the ultimate ‘sledgehammer test’. Read more here.

The offer you can't refuse book coverThe Offer You Can't Refuse by Steven van Bellegham 

Customers expect ease of use, friendly and empathic staff, omnichannel services and competitive prices. In the years to come, customer experience will reach a whole new level. Naturally, technology (5G, quantum computing, robotics and AI) will play a key role in customer expectations, but it goes way beyond that. Invisible and automatic interfaces will become a necessity but the ultimate ease of use will no longer be enough to come out on top. Automation is but the first step. But what if customers start to have expectations that go beyond convenience? As a company how can you help consumers’ dreams come true and eliminate the obstacles in their day-to-day lives? How can a company involve its customers in the solution to these problems? The combination of automation, being a partner in consumers’ lives and solving actual social issues will be the guiding principles for the successful business of the next decade. For consumers, the combination of all these elements constitutes an offer they can’t refuse.

Also consider Customers the Day After Tomorrow: How to Attract Customers in a World of AIs, Bots, and Automation by Steven van Bellegham. Read more here. 

Technology vs. Humanity book coverTechnology vs. Humanity by Gerd Leonhard

Futurist Gerd Leonhard breaks new ground again by bringing together mankind’s urge to upgrade and automate everything—down to human biology itself—with our timeless quest for freedom and happiness. How do we embrace technology without becoming it? Technology vs. Humanity is one of the last moral maps we’ll get as humanity enters the Jurassic Park of Big Tech. Artificial intelligence. Cognitive computing. The Singularity. Digital obesity. Printed food. The Internet of Things. The death of privacy. The end of work-as-we-know-it, and radical longevity: The imminent clash between technology and humanity is already rushing towards us. What moral values are you prepared to stand up for—before being human alters its meaning forever? He explores the exponential changes swamping our societies, providing rich insights and deep wisdom for business leaders, professionals and anyone with decisions to make in this new era. Gerd Leonhard is a futurist who is listed by Wired Magazine as one of the top 100 most influential people in Europe. Read more here. 

Books Discussing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Colour Matters book coverColour Matters? The Truth That No One Wants to See by Anuranjita Kumar

The colour of the skin, through its subtle and attached symbolism and beliefs, its presence or the lack of it, tells a story of human dynamics that is constructive and/or destructive, depending on the lens used. It has the visual power to influence, pronounce judgements, divide, confer privileges and even influence the right to love, hate, embrace, protect or kill merely based on colour-the colour of the skin. Colour Matters? explores these cross-cultural dynamics and highlights the difficulties of being a minority in different geographies. The book is replete with stories of individuals across continents and multi-ethnic, multi-professional backgrounds narrating their personal experiences and, hence, learnings from their own encounters. Listed among the “Most Powerful Women Leaders” by FORTUNE India and ranked on The Economic Times “Women Ahead List 2018,” Anuranjita Kumar is a recognized champion of diversity and inclusion. Read more here.

INdivisible book coverINdivisible: Radically Rethinking Inclusion for Sustainable Business Results by Alison Maitland & Rebekah Steele

The value of inclusion is irrefutable, from innovation and business outcomes to thriving communities. And still, genuine inclusion has yet to be achieved at a broad scale. In the recently released book INdivisible, authors Alison Maitland and Rebekah Steele introduce a new, whole-system approach to bringing measurable inclusion into the strategy and operations of organizations. With concrete action for people at all levels—senior leadership, middle managers, teams and individual employees, Maitland and Steele present a foundation for building more inclusive, higher-performing organizations. Read more here.

The Multiplier Effect of Inclusion book coverThe Multiplier Effect of Inclusion by Dr. Tony Byers, Ph.D.

Dr. Tony Byers, a global expert on Diversity and Inclusion, has proven that when leaders learn to apply The Multiplier Effect of Inclusion effectively, their organizations enjoy an increase in market share, process efficiencies, and business growth. And they successfully cultivate and retain a diverse workforce. Written for those professionals responsible for leveraging diversity and inclusion initiatives, and for leaders interested in the benefits of inclusive environments, Dr. Byer’s insights and strategies will help your organization design a process for inclusion to build, retain, and effectively leverage diversity. The Multiplier Effect of Inclusion will evolve your thinking about D&I from “counting” heads to making heads count! Read more here.

Share What You've Learned with Us

Need a way to engage with your team in a professional development setting? Start a book club at your place of work with one of the books from this list. Or, recommend a book for us to highlight at