My 20 Favourite Books On Business

I’ve been an avid reader for most of my life.  While I have a wide variety of interests, I mostly enjoy reading books about business stories, concepts and leadership.  I thought I would share my 20 favourite business books, which have made a tremendous impact on my life and had a positive influence on my career:

Best Business Books

Jack: Straight from the Gut

One of the first business books that I ever read was the journey of General Electric CEO Jack Welch from his beginnings as a stuttering, competitive kid from working-class Salem, Massachusetts, to his early days as a GE engineer, to his ascension to CEO and a 20-year reign at the top.  Welch stresses the importance of people, originality, creativity, and common sense while sharing his thoughts on what it takes to be a great leader.

Also might like: Winning – Delving deeper into Welch’s own management techniques that he honed during his tenure as CEO of General Electric.

Flight Path: How WestJet Is Flying High in Canada’s Most Turbulent Industry

Flight Path chronicles the amazing success story of Canada’s leading low-fare airline. It offers a detailed look at WestJet’s path to success and holds valuable lessons for any business leader: the empowering corporate philosophy and people-first culture; the low-cost structure that drives profitability; and the passion for customer service that puts the fun back into flying.

Also might like: Nuts! Southwest Airlines’ Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success – The secrets behind the greatest and most unconventional success story in commercial aviation.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

Patrick Lencioni has a gift for presenting complex business ideas into simple and enjoyable fables that are hard to put down.  Lencioni reveals the five dysfunctions that go to the very heart of why teams, even the best ones, often struggle.  He outlines a powerful model and actionable steps that can be used to overcome these common hurdles and build a cohesive, effective team.

Also might like: Death By Meeting – This book focuses on a cure for the most painful yet underestimated problem of modern business: bad meetings.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t

One of the classic business books from my University days, Good to Great still stands the test of time.  Jim Collins and a team of researchers try to determine what makes good companies great by using strict benchmarks to identify a group of 11 elite companies that made the leap from good to great and sustained that greatness for at least 15 years.

Also might like: Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies – Most companies don’t last more than a few decades.  This book dissects those that have done far better to reveal the secrets of their longevity.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

Do you ever wonder how things end up going viral?  Malcom Gladwell identifies three key factors that each play in role in determining whether a particular trend will “tip” into wide-scale popularity.  This is one of the business books that’s changed the way we approached marketing over the last decade.

Also might like: Outliers: The Story of Success – Gladwell examines the commonality of successful people and organizations and investigates why some of the world’s greatest achievers are beneficiaries of hidden advantages.

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

Freakonomics offers readers the hidden facts buried within the stories they live and see every day, along with the numbers and statistics that can help them draw sense from the chaos.  By justifying the use of strange questions to get at the heart of the matter, the authors show how economists turn collections of facts into unusual theories and then prove them by applying critical analysis.

Also might like: Superfreakonomics – The co-authors continue examining hot-button subject matter in the sequel and examples are reflected in the subtitle Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance.

First, Break All The Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently

Based on in-depth interviews with more than 80,000 managers at all levels (and in companies of all sizes), the Gallup Organization’s Buckingham and Coffman reveal what great managers do differently from ordinary managers to coax world class performance out of their workers.

Also might like: Now, Discover Your Strengths – Buckingham explains how we spend too much time trying to fix our weaknesses leaving us with little sense of our own talents and strengths.

Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done

Larry Bossidy, former GE executive and CEO of Honeywell teamed up with author Ram Charan to explain how getting things done — not strategy, innovation or anything else — is the most important function of a business leader.  This book examines in detail the three key processes of execution — people, strategy and operations — and show how all three are linked.

Also might like: The Leadership Pipeline – In this book, three experts show companies how to build their own leaders by building the right system for ensuring a full pipeline of leaders, now and in the future.

The 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence From Anywhere in the Organization

While most business books seem to be written from an Executive’s perspective, this book is practical for employees who are still climbing up the corporate ladder.

According to leadership expert John Maxwell, you can learn to develop your influence from wherever you are in the organization by becoming a 360-degree leader.  You can learn to lead up, lead across and lead down.  He writes that only 360-degree leaders influence people at every level of the organization, and by helping others, they help themselves.

Also might like: 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership – Maxwell combines insights learned from his thirty-plus years of leadership successes and mistakes with observations from the world of business, politics, sports, religion, and military conflict.

48 Laws of Power

All of us are, in one way or another, involved in power games, whether at work, in family or in personal relationships.  This book is a must-read for anyone affected by politically-motivated relationships; essentially, anyone who is affected by society.

Also might like: 33 Strategies of War – Using examples from history, this book looks at the strategies of war that can help people gain mastery in the modern world.

I definitely recommend these business books to anyone who is looking to get ahead in their career and willing to open their mind to new business concepts and ideas.

What are some of your favourite business books?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. krantcents on May 23, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    I would add “Never eat alone and other secrets to success : one relationship at a time” and “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.

    • Echo on May 23, 2011 at 7:29 pm

      I’ll have to check out “Never Eat Alone…”

      7 Habits was close to making the list, thanks for the additions.

  2. Money Rabbit on May 24, 2011 at 7:10 am

    This is a great list! I have only read Freakonomics (so good) so I will add these to my list!!

    The only one I’m iffy about is the 48 Laws of Power. I read an article about his other book, the Art of Seduction, so I had to take a peak, and I found it to be a little scary in how manipulative it was. Was there something specific you got from 48 Laws of Power? I’m very curious!

    • Echo on May 24, 2011 at 7:21 am

      Thanks for stopping by! 48 Laws of Power is a really good read, even if it’s only for the great historical references to Napolean, Talleyrand, PT Barnum, and to some of the best con-artists of the past.

      Some laws don’t really apply to your every day life, but others like Never Outshine Your Master, are very relevant to just knowing how office politics are played and how to be aware of these situations.

      I think it’s more about understanding how the game of power is played, and you’ll likely identify with certain people or certain situations.

      • Money Rabbit on May 24, 2011 at 8:49 pm

        Ahhh, I see, understand the system, but not necessarily play the game. Thanks for the extra info, I’ll check it out.

Leave a Comment

Join More Than 10,000 Subscribers!

Sign up now and get our free e-Book- Financial Management by the Decade - plus new financial tips and money stories delivered to your inbox every week.