11 books to help you navigate workplace challenges
You spend a lot of time at your job, and facing difficulties with coworkers, supervisors or simply motivation can make it hard to stay positive each day. These books will make it easier for you to resolve workplace issues.
1. It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy
by Michael Abrashoff
Reading this gives you a sense of what to do if you're asked to take over a problem crew with poor productivity. Captain Abrashoff makes the point that not only does the responsibility for improving team performance rest with you, the leader, but you have to improve your own leadership skills before you can create a crew of confident, inspired problem-solvers ready to take initiative and responsibility for their actions. Reading the book inspires you to see your work group through the eyes of your employees, and you'll learn how to get your employees to believe in what they're doing.
2. Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting out of the Box
from the Arbinger Institute
This book uses an entertaining story about an executive facing challenges at work and home to remind us that the key to leadership lies in who we are. Leadership and Self-Deception transforms the reader in their work and personal lives. I loved how easy it was to read this book, it was almost like novel and it made a wallop of an impact. I've given it to many of the individuals I've coached and I've yet to find anyone who didn't find it awesome.
3. The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability
by Roger Connors, Craig Hickman and Tom Smith
The Oz Principle inspires accountability, personal ownership and committed investment on the part of your employees — and yourself. I loved the self-assessment inventories it provides, particularly the one where if you try to game the inventory and get high scores, you learn you have even more of a problem than you want. I've used Oz with many groups. I love that when your employees learn to say "above the line" or "whoops, below the line," they stop blaming and finger-pointing and become solution-oriented and forward-moving.
4. Beating the Workplace Bully
by Lynne Curry
My book gives readers a practical, empowering self-training manual that teaches readers how to turn the tables on bullies; recognize and avoid bully traps; learn how they’ve magnetized bullies and hot-handle themselves under fire. If you're being bullied, this book will change your life. Readers will love the real-life examples. I love that I've been able to change the lives of readers.
5. Solutions: 411 Workplace Answers
by Lynne Curry
I've been called "The Dear Abby of the workplace" and my book offers readers practical advice, realistic strategies and valuable answers that change your life for the better when you’re facing real-life workplace dramas and challenges. This book helps when you face a problem that doesn’t solve easily: Your work life is good, but you know it could be great; you feel stuck and want to move forward; and you want excellence or simply more than what comes easily. Readers find this book an easy-to-navigate “how to handle workplace challenges" manual.
6. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
by Marshall Goldsmith
Written by an executive coach, this book pinpoints 20 bad habits that every manager and person needs to shed. The problems include ones we all have, such as holding on to the past, speaking when angry and forgetting to listen. I appreciate how Goldsmith suggests that readers solicit others’ opinions concerning their behavior and persona, then commit to correcting the large and small actions and qualities that hold them back.
7. Influencing with Integrity
by Genie Z. LaBorde
Influencing with Integrity is a practical self-training manual for learning innovative approaches to influencing, persuading and negotiating in a way that hard-wires new skills directly into your brain. I learned a great deal from this book that I use on a daily basis, from learning to watch the small nonverbal indicators for how others are taking what I’m saying to how to use stories to change others’ opinions.
8. Coping with Toxic Managers, Subordinates... and Other Difficult People: Using Emotional Intelligence to Survive and Prosper
by Roy Lubit
A manual for understanding rigid, narcissistic, unethical, burnt-out and aggressive managers, peers and subordinates, this book will help anyone dealing with difficult people in the workplace. Lubit teaches you how to recognize each problem type and develop your emotional intelligence to protect yourself and your organization from the destructive impact of toxic managers. I found this book fascinating, and value that it reveals why certain hard-to-understand individuals operate in strange ways.
9. The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
by Mark Nepo
Nepo, a philosopher-poet and cancer survivor, leads you on a journey into self-reflection and centering yourself, needed if you want to stay grounded despite workplace challenges. Nepo writes a separate essay for each day of the year. I have a copy of this book at home and at work, and whenever I read a week’s worth of essays, I find something that centers and inspires me.
10. Enlightened Leadership: Getting to the Heart of Change
by Ed Oakley and Doug Krug
This book is a practical text for shifting from a reactive mindset where you ask “why did you...” and shift to a proactive mindset in which you ask “how can we...?” and “in what ways are we satisfied?” I’ve used this book with clients, both managers and employees, who need to learn how to better draw out the under-utilized expertise and talent of their employees and selves. Those who read and integrate this book’s philosophy can create a change in the fabric of their workplaces.
11. Crossing the Unknown Sea
by David Whyte
Written by a poet, Crossing the Unknown Sea encourages you to self-reflect and take risks at work that can enhance your profession. Whyte writes poetically, describing the human approach to work as “a sky full of light and day, with all the varied weather of an individual life blowing through it.” He teaches that work, like life, is an adventure.
(c) 2016, Dr. Lynne Curry, author of Solutions and Beating the Workplace Bully, AMACOM, 2016. Dr. Curry is a management consultant and executive coach.