Skip to content

15 Essential Books for Business Management Professionals


Whether you’re a student studying business or you’ve been a manager for years, there is always more to learn. There are some great books from thought leaders in the world of business and leadership that should make it onto your reading list. 

Let’s look at 15 books about business management and leadership principles that are well worth the read for any professional who wants to broaden their perspectives and become great leaders in their organizations. 

1. How to Win Friends and Influence People

Originally published in 1936, this book has earned a reputation as one of the best-selling books of all time. Dale Carnegie provides insights into developing positive relationships with others that are highly relevant for leaders looking to build rapport with employees and colleagues. This book has withstood the test of time and should make it onto every business leader’s reading list.

2. The New One Minute Manager

The One Minute Minute Manager, by Kenneth Blanchard Ph.D. and Spencer Johnson M.D., was originally published in 1982 and was a staple read for managers. It was updated to reflect modern workplaces and republished in 2015 as The New One Minute Manager. This book is written as a parable that explains how you can have a lasting impact on employees in short snippets of time. 

3. The Competitive Advantage of Nations

Recognized as one of the most influential resources in the business world since 1989, this book by Michael Porter outlines the fundamentals of how companies achieve a competitive advantage. This book is an excellent resource for managers interested in the bigger picture of the overall marketplace and what makes a business successful. 

4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

With over 40 million copies sold since it was published in 1989, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey should make it on every manager’s reading list. As the title suggests, the book breaks down seven principles that can enhance your life, both personally and professionally. For example, this includes being proactive and seeking first to understand, then to be understood. 

5. On Becoming a Leader

Warren G. Bennis, a pioneer in the world of leadership, published this classic in 1989. Bennis interviewed dozens of leaders and identified the common traits that made them successful. This book presents a philosophy of leadership that emphasizes a leader’s willingness to grow, learn, and express themselves, thereby inspiring others to follow suit.

6. The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization

Even in 1990, when MIT professor Peter Senge published The Fifth Discipline, it was clear that organizations needed to be agile to succeed. The idea of agility is even more crucial today in our rapidly changing world. In this highly respected book, Senge discusses what it means to build learning organizations and how the ability to learn is related to your ability to grow your company.

Interested in learning and advancing your career through an MBA program? Read our blog post, “Is an Online MBA Degree Worth It?

7. If Aristotle Ran General Motors

Looking at the business world through other disciplines can bring a fresh perspective. In this 1997 book, philosophy professor Tom Morris explores how ancient philosophies and ethics can apply to running a business effectively. Principles such as human flourishing and the application of wisdom are timeless, so it’s wise for modern leaders to look to insights that have lasted for millennia.

8. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You

Bestselling author and speaker John C. Maxwell has established key principles for leaders that he outlined in his 1998 book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. This book was recently updated with more modern examples to appeal to today’s leaders. However, the central laws of leadership—including respect, empowerment, and sacrifice—remain just as pertinent to modern leaders.

9. First, Break All The Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently

What distinguishes a highly effective leader? This is the question Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman seek to answer in their celebrated 1999 book. This book draws on the results of a study of more than 80,000 managers to provide that answer. Some insights that come to light may seem to contradict conventional wisdom, making this an interesting read. 

10. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't 

Jim Collins published this book in 2001 after researching mediocre companies that managed to achieve lasting greatness compared with those that remained stuck. Some of the insights you’ll find in the book include the impact of leadership style on achieving greatness, the importance of fostering discipline and entrepreneurship, and the role technology should play in a thriving business. 

11. Your Money and Your Brain: How the New Science of Neuroeconomics Can Help Make You Rich

When it comes to finances, leaders need to know how to make rational, strategic decisions. This book by Jason Zweig, published in 2008, discusses the science behind how we think about money and provides strategies for overcoming common mistakes. This book is helpful for any business management professional, but is especially pertinent for those in finance.

Interested in helping businesses succeed financially? Check out our blog article, “MBA in Accounting or Finance: What’s the Difference?” 

12. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

Business management professionals interested in entrepreneurship should read Peter Thiel’s 2014 book, Zero to One. This book discusses the importance of thinking for yourself rather than copying business greats that have found success. With unique areas yet to explore, there are many opportunities for today’s entrepreneurs to tap into.

13. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t

Simon Sinek, author of the celebrated book Start with Why, published Leaders Eat Last in 2014 to explore the importance of establishing a culture of trust and cooperation in organizations. Today’s leaders must be people-oriented rather than exploitative if they want to earn their employees’ loyalty and help them thrive.

14. The Power of Positive Leadership: How and Why Positive Leaders Transform Teams and Organizations and Change the World

Jon Gordon is known for his books that teach valuable lessons about positivity in various contexts. In The Power of Positive Leadership, published in 2017, Gordon discusses what it means to be a positive leader and how a leader’s positivity can be contagious to their whole team. This book pairs principles with examples and practical tips to help leaders transform their organizations.

15. Neuroscience for Leaders: Practical Insights to Successfully Lead People and Organizations 

If you’re interested in the intersection of business and science, then this 2020 book from Nikolaos Dimitriadis and Alexandros Psychogios should make it onto your reading list. This book compiles recent academic research in the world of neuroscience and applies these findings to business and leadership. With these insights, leaders can be more conscious of their thought processes and refine their leadership approach.

Advance Your Business Education with an MBA

Reading is a great way to stay sharp and broaden your business management skills and perspectives. If you want to take your education to the next level, consider learning through higher education. You can earn your MBA online through MVNU Online’s accredited program. An MBA program in the concentration of your choice can help you gain the edge you need to succeed.