Bob Sutton’s Reading List for Business Leaders

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post for US News which explains how reading can help you get into business school. Just to recap, I firmly believe that increasing the amount of time you spend reading directly—and almost immediately—gives a boost to your MBA application by helping you write better essays, strengthen your GMAT score, and making you a more interesting conversationalist when the time comes to interview at your program of choice.

With that in mind, I want to make sure Bob Sutton’s reading list for business leaders is on your radar as you wrap up the year and perhaps find yourself resolving to ramp up the reading as a New Year’s resolution.  Sutton is Professor of Management science at the Stanford Engineering School and a Professor of Organizational Behavior, by courtesy, at Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Named one of the world’s best business professors by Poets & Quants in October, Sutton’s national bestseller, The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t, made him a leading management thinker by addressing the pervasive plague of negativity in the workplace.

These suggested titles are not easy-breezy beach reads, but heavy on substance. To come up with the list of 11 books every leader should read, Sutton says, “I started thinking about the books that have taught me much about people, teams, and organizations — while at the same time — provide useful guidance (if sometimes only indirectly) about what it takes to lead well versus badly.”

Professor Sutton’s Reading List, Updated for 2012

1. The Progress Principle by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer.

2. Influence by Robert Cialdini

3. Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.

4. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

5. Collaboration by Morten Hansen.

6. Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordon MacKenzie.

7. The Pixar Touch by David Price.

8. The Laws of Subtraction by Matthew May.

9. Leading Teams by J. Richard Hackman.

10. Give and Take by Adam Grant. 

11. The Path Between the Seas by historian David McCullough.

There’s something on this list for everyone, and  Sutton’s personal blog, Work Matters, is as entertaining as it is illuminating in its coverage of all topics related to management and innovation. If you’ve already devoured one of these titles, or have your own best business book to recommend, please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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