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In the last few years, the role of HR has changed tremendously. From working in closed conference rooms to becoming a key decision-maker in organizations across the globe, HR has evolved into a significant force.

During times of a paradigm shift, HR professionals need to up-skill themselves with the latest trends and bask themselves in the knowledge of the best HR books from their niche. Discover 10 books for HR leaders like you in this article.

Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world, a door opens to allow in more light.

Not everyone is a bibliophile, but cultivating a habit to read always helps you get better. When you read, you will realize that there are a lot of things in the world that you don't know.

If you are aspiring to become better, be it your personal or professional life, look for books that can introduce you to better ideas, great concepts, and impeccable frameworks. Why invent the wheel when already someone has developed it for you?

Top 10 Must-Read Books for HR Leaders

As an HR leader, if you want to keep up with the latest trends and stay relevant in the ever-changing landscape. Here are ten riveting books for HR leaders.

1. On Fire at Work: How Great Companies Ignite Passion in Their People Without Burning Them Out by Eric Ches

In this book, the author compiles over 25 exclusive interviews with over 25 company founders and CEOs. The book serves the objective of being a guide for any organization that wants to build a workforce that is not just engaged but is on fire. The book doesn’t just talk on the surface about employee engagement but goes to granular levels on how to keep the fires of passion burning once the honeymoon period of employees is over.

The book lays a roadmap for building an engaging work culture that keeps the employee engaged. It also gives you ways to attract the best talent in the industry and retain them. Chester’s book is a must-read for all HR leaders who want to inspire their employees and get the best out of them.

Apart from being an award-winning author and speaker, Eric Chester is a certified speaking professional and has been included in the international professional speaker’ shall of fame. An honor shared by less than 5% of speakers across the globe which increases the credibility of this book.

2. How Google Works by Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg (With Alan Eagle, foreword by Larry Page)

How Google works isn’t a culture book; instead, it is a business book written by two Google executives-Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg. Both the authors give a sneak peek into how creative people and one of the best work environments catapulted Google to become an Internet monopoly.

His book begins with ano. An urgent request of a board member for a detailed business plan is denied. As you go through more pages, the book reveals itself in the form of a highly engaging story that offers tactics and best practices to start and build a successful organization. The book throughout focuses on one particular characteristic, and that is-

Hire as many talented engineers as possible and give them freedom.

The whole book stresses how the company never compromised on the people they hire, how the employees would be treated, and the freedom that needs to be given for every employee to spread their wings and do their best work.

3. Turn the Ship Around by David Marquet

Turn the Ship is the story about how former U.S. Navy commander David Marquet transformed the USS Santa Fe from one of the worst-performing nuclear submarines in its fleet to one of the best the Navy has ever seen. It is one of the best illustrations about how building a culture of individual responsibility can drive immense success within an organization.

On a submarine, the captain has all the powers. In the book, he talks about the decentralization of power wherein there is a shift of psychological ownership from the authority to information centers- The crew. Instead of giving plain instructions, they were replaced with conversations filled with intent with a clear objective of breeding an environment that makes leaders of every rank think and act independently.

When freedom is given to think in a high stakes environment, the sailors felt empowered and rose to the occasion. Which in turn lead to great performances helping them win awards and recognition for the USS Santa Fe.

4. Everybody Matters by Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia

Every individual deserves an opportunity and support for everything they are destined to be. Bob Chapman, CEO of Barry-Wehmiller, implemented a “Continuous Improvement”, People-Centric” leadership mentality within the organization during one of the worst periods of the global economy- the 2008 recession.

Inculcating such an attitude gave birth to a culture that measures the worth of each individual,giving them an environment that lets them discover, develop, and share their expertise, getting appreciated in the process.

This book is excellent in the current context as Barry-Wehmiller Companies lead their employees through enlightening cultural change while going through a recession. They refused to layoff anyone and chose a different path. The path is unique in a way that they instilled a feeling of sacrifice amongst their employees. They instilled everyone with the sense that all will suffer a bit to avoid major suffering on a few.

Everybody Matters is an excellent read in current times as it tells an inspiring story about the human spirit and how it looks within an organization when stakeholders are seen as family and not just employees.

5. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegi

This book is an all-time classic written by one of the greatest entrepreneurs Dale Carnegie on how to win friends and influence people. It may not be directly related to the HR niche, but it is a great read for almost everyone who wants to improve and get success in life.

As an HR leader, you will find the frameworks given in this book useful as you have to deal with alot of people all through your career. It teaches you how to get better as asocial person.

Every leader needs to master the art of influencing people. This book teaches you exactly that. How to maximize the potential of employees, close more business deals, navigate small talk, negotiate better, and getting the better half of a deal.

6. Data-Driven HR: How to Use Analytics and Metrics to Drive Performance by Bernard Marr

This book covers the ways data can be a pivotal factor in making an organization successful in current times. It explains in detail how an organization can use data to drive performance, optimize processes, and make decision-making more precise.

The author of this book, Bernard Marr, is a keynote speaker, and a strategic advisor to several companies and governments. He is among the top five business influencers on the globe as per LinkedIn. As per him, things are changing rapidly, and the world is evolving to become more intelligent with every passing day. Everything can be measured, from day-to-day activities to significant business operations. That means, today, HR has access to more data increasing their potential to get deeper insights.

This book teaches the reader to leverage these insights to hire smarter people and manage them. It is an excellent read for every HR leader looking for innovation using data and technology.

7. Destination Work by Harry Paul and Ross Reck

It is simple and easy to read a book weaved together with many stories. The core objective of the whole book is conveyed in a story that revolves around the principles of management. It talks about real problems and stresses on having real conversations, being appreciative and kind to everyone. When you form a genuine connection, it makes a massive impact on the morale of an employee.

Visualize an organization where its a joy to come to the office and give the best outputs.The authors of this book, Harry Paul and Ross Reck, depict how being nice to the people who work with them can easily increase the productivity of employees.

The primary reason why behaving nicely with employees is directly proportional to their productivity is the amount of effort put in a task depends on how they feel.

8. Drive-by Daniel H. Pin

This book tackles the primary motivation of employees. What exactly drives an employee to work?

The core of this book lies in why the carrot and stick approach is full of flaws, and it can do more harm to the performance of an employee than good. The perils of such a method include poor performance, minimal creativity, and unethical behavior. Bestselling author and a leading thinker in the business behavior niche, Daniel H.Pink scripts a compelling and thought-provoking book on motivation.

He uses case studies and backs his words with scientific research to put his argument forward. As the book delves more profound, he underlines three elements of true motivation, and they are as follows-

i. Autonomy- The desire to direct our own lives

ii. Mastery- The urge to gain expertise in something

iii. Purpose- The desire to be a part of a greater good

Being an HR leader, it will help you understand what exactly will drive your employees to work and what will motivate them to become the best version of themselves.

9. Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson

It is a cult-classic book on management and is a sure shot read for every HR leader out there. The question in the title is not answered by Dr. Spencer Johnson throughout the book. That is where the brilliance of his narrative lies.

The point he wants to make is, it doesn't matter who moved your cheese. You need to get up and start looking for new cheese. When you are making a change in already existing systems, as an organization, ask yourself a few questions.

a) Are you making this change because the customer wants it?

b) Is the CEO initiating the change?

c) Is this change based on the efforts invested by employees at the grass-root level?

Understanding the factors that lead to change will helps you know how your employees could react to a change management program

10. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make The Leap… And Others Don’t by James C. Collins

Ending this list with Good to Great, a book that outlines six primary virtues of companies that evolved from being just good to great companies.

James Collins, with his team, selected twenty-eight companies for his research. He analyzed the histories of all twenty-eight companies in the study. After going through a humongous amount of data and thousands of pages of interviews, Collins and his crew discovered the key determinants of greatness -- why some companies make the leap and others don't.

Those virtues Include level 5 leaders, hiring the right people, disciplined thinking, hedgehog concept, the culture of freedom, technological innovation, and the flywheel concept where a combination of small steps determines success.

It showcases how great companies create an impact over time through long-term sustained performance that can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the very beginning.

There are a lot of other books too which are of immense value to HR leaders. We have compiled this list selecting those books which we think would be of great value to you keeping in mind the contemporary situations and what the future would be like for HR. Knowledge is power, seek it in books, and use it wisely.

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Issac Thomas

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Issac Thomas is a Content Writer and Digital Marketer from Bengaluru, Karnataka.