One of the first verities many people discover as they enter the labour market is that their training process does not finish when they complete studies.

Work experience is important, but it’s essential that it is complemented by external sources in order to help understand the context around us better and provide us with a perspective difficult to perceive otherwise in a work environment.

If you want to improve your performance and develop your career, the following is a list of readings that will help you achieve that.

The Leadership Code: Five Rules To Lead By, by Dave Ulrich et al.

Which are the qualities that make a true leader stand out? Even if the answer to this question is not an easy one, the authors tried to provide one by empirical method: speaking with CEOs and executives in major companies, scholars, and relevant consultants of diverse sectors, they discovered common factors, a set of characteristics they shared and that were defined in the book as the leadership code. Summarizing, those parameters are strategic vision and management capability, proactiveness, ability to attract talent, vision for the future and a sense of self-efficiency.

Good to Great, by Jim Collins

Like every good book about personal and professional transformation, Good to Great draws from a question which the author tries to provide an answer to. Why do some companies grow while others quickly become mediocre? Just like in the previous book by Ulrich, Collins looks for and identifies a series of patterns among those companies that have achieved excellence. The most relevant share eight features that have helped them succeed: humility, discipline, passion, technology… An indispensable company manual.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey

Five rules to lead by, eight rules to make your company succeed… and seven habits to be more effective. This book claims that our character is comprised of our habits, which are very powerful factors regarding the way we interact with the world. Changing them depends on ourselves and, if we head towards the right direction with a specific purpose, we’ll be able to improve our efficiency. The author of this best-seller was a renowned authority regarding leadership and family issues, consultant for diverse companies and writer.

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World, by Stanley McChrystal

McChrystal is not your average writer, but a general of the US Army. Throughout this book he claims that reductionist hierarchical management techniques no longer work, since organizations are too big for a single individual to make all relevant decisions. He explains that armed forces use a new style of management around which a team operates as a network with shared consciousness and each member has the ability to act. He states that information sharing based on trust encourages employees and provides an all-round view of the company´s performance to managers.

Who Moved My Cheese?, by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

The only novel-like title in this list resorts to a fable in order to induce reflection upon changes happening in work and in life, and the diverse ways to deal with them. In this fable, two mice and two tiny people always go down the same path to find the piece of cheese they’ll eat for the day. When the cheese supply depletes, each character will take a different approach towards the problem, compelling them to take more or less decisive choices on the issue. A best-seller in the business section of the New York Times for five years, Who Moved My Cheese? is an allegory of change worth reading.

The Spark and The Grind: Ignite The Power of Disciplined Creativity, by Eric Wahl

The author splits people into two main categories. On one side, those with a spark, creative genius and inspiration, with a greater capacity to think outside the box and embark themselves in diverse projects with a potential, but struggle to finish what they started. On the other side, those hardworking, tenacious and committed profiles, who don’t usually stop to think whether there is another way to make things happen. This book claims that the key to professional success is to know how to bond both aspects, inspiration and hard work, since the spark is just half of the equation, and vice versa.

The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age, by Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnosha and Chris Yee

The information overload brought by the digitalization of society has established itself as such a relevant phenomenon that it’s even been given a name: infoxication. The changes traditional employment models are undergoing compel us to rethink our perspective in favour of a new approach: talent is more accessible than ever, yet interconnected and capable of creating more cohesive reference networks.

Hello, World, by Dona Sarkar

The author of this recent publication is the project manager for Microsoft’s Windows Insider. In order to compose it, she gathered what she considered to be the most relevant pieces of advice regarding how to succeed in today’s companies from the executives of major corporations such as Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Amazon. In Hello World, the reader can find the keys to develop in a changing work environment and, generally speaking, in a world driven by new technologies.

Sources: Business Insider, Forbes, Penguin Random House.

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