The Business Books Every HR Pro Should Read

by Nathaniel Plamondon | Posted | Industry Buzz

The Business Books Every HR Pro Should Read

It's a sad reality that HR does not always get a seat at the table. A few months ago at our TalentSpace Live conference, HR rockstar Patty McCord, best known for her Netflix Culture Deck, had one key message:

Some #TuesdayMotivation for #HR pros from former Netflix CHRO @pattymccord at #TSLive17

A post shared by Saba Software (@sabasoftware) on

We couldn't agree with Patty more, which is why we went and talked to some of our favorite HR thought leaders to find out what business books they recommend. Because we firmly believe that the first step in transitioning HR from a business partner to a business leader is getting to know the business side of things. Once you can speak the language and empathize with the rest of the organization, getting a seat at the table is that much easier.

David Zinger recommends...

Managing by Henry Mintzberg

Want to get a better idea of what makes managers tick? This book draws on the author's observations of twenty-nine managers from a wide variety of realms: business, government, healthcare, even a symphony orchestra. The key thesis: managing is a practice, not a science or a profession, learned through experience and rooted in context. It's a great read if you want to get a better idea of how to hire and develop great managers.

Tim Sackett recommends...

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

It wouldn't be a Tim Sackett recommendation without being a little edgy.

This book is "a counterintuitive approach to living a good life." This selection is less about business in particular, but a ton of business leaders recommend this book regularly. It's more of a self-help guide on a state of being, eschewing the regular "stay positive" attitude often peddled by the self-help gurus of the world and opting for a more realistic worldview.

Kris Dunn recommends...

Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood's Creative Artists Agency

Kris's recommendation is his favorite book of 2017 (so far), and it chronicles the story of the Creative Artists Agency. CAA revolutionized the entertainment industry from behind the scenes, and this book is the story of their rise to power in Hollywood, told by the people who were there.

David Creelman recommends...

Tribes by Seth Godin

"If you need to rally fellow employees, customers, investors, believers, hobbyists, or readers around an idea, this book will demystify the process." This is a leadership book of a different kind, talking about how to rally groups of people, whether they're employees, customers, investors or just about anyone else. People have always been attracted to "tribes" whether through religion, geography, or philosophy, and Seth Godin brings that concept into the 21st century.

Laurie Ruettimann recommends...

Barking Up The Wrong Tree by Eric Barker

The subtitle for this book is "The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong." It's part behavioral psychology and part common sense, there are good tips on productivity and collaboration. If you've ever wondered why high school wizards don't become millionaires, whether or not nice guys finish last, or the secret to work-life balance, this book is for you.

Susan Mazza recommends...

Influence by Robert Cialdini

Want to know why people say yes? Robert Cialdini is a leading expert in the realm of persuasion and influence. In this book, he outlines six universal principles for becoming a skilled persuader, and how to spot one that's trying to exercise their influence on you.

Sharlyn Lauby recommends...

It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff

Don't worry, you don't need to be in the military to benefit from this one. This is a classic "worst to first" story. When Captain D. Michael Abrashoff was handed the keys to the USS Benfold, a fully loaded ship with every cutting-edge technology available, he wondered why he wasn't getting results. Through a series of successful management exercises like increasing communication, seeing the ship through the eyes of his crew, and listening "aggressively," he gained notoriety both inside and outside the Navy.

Get reading!

Books like these are the first step in getting HR a seat at the table. If we want talent strategy to become a key element of business leadership and strategy, give some of these books a look.

Bring Your Talent Strategy Into Your Business Strategy

One of HR\'s brightest minds gives you three things you can do to unite your business and talent strategies.

Watch Now
Cover of the book
Cover of the book

Bring Your Talent Strategy Into Your Business Strategy

One of HR\'s brightest minds gives you three things you can do to unite your business and talent strategies.

Watch Now

Related Articles

Close [x]

Get our Saba Blog Digest email delivered right to your inbox.

Join over 100,000 of your HR peers: