What’s on your reading list at the moment? Maybe you’re looking to be gripped by the latest thriller from David Baldacci or James Patterson? Or are you planning to relax with a bit of chick-lit courtesy of Marian Keyes or Sophie Kinsella?

Sometimes, it’s good to ring the changes by throwing a business book into the mix. Of course reading should be a leisurely pursuit – but let’s be honest, how much time do you really have to keep up with the latest thinking when you’re caught up in the 9-5?

I usually have two books on the go at any one time – some fiction to relax with, plus a business book of some kind to spark new ideas or give me a fresh perspective.

We love a reading list here on the Cezanne HR blog – so here’s what’s sitting on my bedside table for 2019:

1. The Motivation Myth: How high achievers really set themselves up to win, by Jeff Haden

In this book, top Inc columnist and LinkedIn influencer Jeff Haden suggests that ‘motivation’ as we currently know it is something of a myth. He argues that success is not reserved for those who have some kind of innate drive or special ‘sauce’ that keeps them energised and enthused. Rather, it’s something that can be achieved by anyone, with a set of clear and repeatable processes. The book is a practical guide, which aims to take the mystery out of accomplishment, help us get out of negative thinking loops and understand how to reframe our thinking about how motivation relates to success. Perhaps one to pick up when you’re trying to work up the energy to summon the waiter for another poolside cocktail.


2. Super Connector: Stop networking and start building business relationships that really matter, by Scott Gerber and Ryan Paugh

At a recent conference, I was fascinated by a speaker who argued that networking as we know it just ends up tying a tighter and tighter noose around like-minded people from the same backgrounds.

This is because we are hard wired to be ‘tribal’ and to gravitate towards people who are ‘like us’. What we need instead, they argued, is an alternative model where networks are free-thinking, fully inclusive and set up to serve some kind of higher purpose that brings people together. This book builds on that idea by introducing the ‘super connector’ – people who don’t just network in order to collect business cards, but who understand the power of relationship building and purposefully bring different worlds and communities together with the intention of creating mutual value. The book gives practical guidance on how we can leave our bad networking habits behind and embrace a new approach. Worth a look for anyone who feels that it’s time they got out of their ‘HR bubble’ and started to develop a wider perspective.


3. How Women Rise: Break the 12 habits holding you back, by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith

Given that HR is a female dominated profession – largely dominated by men at the upper echelons – I thought it was worth putting this one on the list. Do you hesitate about putting forward ideas? Are you reluctant to claim credit for your achievements? Do you find it difficult to get the support you need from your boss? If any of this rings true, this book aims to help you get back on track by identifying 12 common habits that can prove an obstacle to future success and telling you how to overcome them. The disease to please, the perfection trap, putting your job before your career and failing to enlist allies from day one are just a few of the 12 covered. Worth a look for those trying to break the glass ceiling – or those wanting to develop strategies to accelerate female progression in their organisation.


4. Applied Empathy: The new language of leadership, by Michael Ventura

There’s been a lot of talk about how soft skills – and empathy in particular – will be key in the future world of work where artificial intelligence is threatening jobs as we know them. After all, it’s one of the few areas where humans will always be more capable than robots. The book argues that empathy is not about being nice, or about pity or sympathy – rather, it’s the ability to see the world through someone else’s eyes. Ventura argues that if you want to connect to the people who work with and for you, you first have to understand them. It’s a route to strong and effective leadership – and could be the key to unlocking the innovation and growth that is the holy grail for businesses. The book gives practical advice and real-life strategies on how to use empathy to powerful effect and is based on classes delivered by the author at Princeton University.


5. HR Most Influential Interview Book

Finally, if you don’t want to spend all your hard-earned cash on reading matter, take a look at a book put together by HR Magazine, based on interviews with top HR thought-leaders such as Sandy Begbie of Standard Life and Valerie Hughes-D’Aeth of the BBC. These – and others – were interviewed by faculty at Ashridge Executive Education about the challenges keeping HR practitioners awake at night and how they have tackled these – and others during their careers. Worth a look to see what you can learn that could be applied to your organisation.


Do you have any recommendations of your own? Let us know in the comments below!

Erika Lucas author image

Erika Lucas

Writer and Communications Consultant

Erika Lucas is a writer and communications consultant with a special interest in HR, leadership, management and personal development. Her career has spanned journalism and PR, with previous roles in regional press, BBC Radio, PR consultancy, charities and business schools.