A Summer Reading List for Leaders in the Modern Workplace

Books that our team members have found impactful for growing as a leader.
Verity International
July 18, 2019

Summer is here and with it so are those much-anticipated warm afternoons and evenings. While you’re enjoying the classic mystery novels at the cottage, try incorporating a few books geared toward gaining new perspectives to help you become a more effective leader.

We’ve asked a few of our Verity team members to recommend books that have influenced their own leadership journeys.

Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

By Susan Cain

Recommended by Tim Arnill, President and CEO

There is a thoughtful study on the importance of valuing differences in style, approach, thought and being.  This book begs the reader to ask, as a leader, how important is it to ensure all voices are heard, not just those that speak loudest and most often?

Younger Next Year

By Dr. Henry Lodge and Chris Crowley

Recommended by Tim Arnill, President and CEO

For those of us who are a little further along the leadership journey and still have much to give (and a long time to work!), this is one of the best books I have read on how to stay healthy and fit as life goes on.  An easy read with chapters alternating between the science behind staying healthy and the stories of people who applied the principles.  If you are not looking after yourself as a leader, how can you expect to lead others effectively?

Daring Greatly

By Brené Brown

Recommended by Christine Miners, Managing Director, Talent

It’s a terrific book about having the personal courage to let ourselves be seen at work, at home, with family, and in all aspects of life.  It provides a vision for leading from vulnerability and dispels the myth that vulnerability is a weakness.

The Culture Code

By Daniel Coyle

Recommended by David Gatchalian, Executive Coach

Daniel Coyle takes us into some of the world’s most successful organizations, including the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team Six, IDEO, and the San Antonio Spurs.  This “easy summer read” book, provides insights and applicable, straight-forward strategies to enable learning, encourage collaboration, and build the trust that underpins successful teams. 

Good to Great

By Jim Collins

Recommended by Rose Minichiello, Managing Director, Career Care

Jim Collins asked the question, “Can a good company become a great company and if so, how?” In Good to Great’s study, Collins discovered common characteristics that challenged many of the conventional concepts of corporate success. Making the transition from good to great doesn’t require a high-profile CEO, the latest technology, innovative change management, or even a fine-tuned business strategy. Instead, at the heart of those rare and truly great companies is a corporate culture that inspires high performance.

Deep Work – Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

By Cal Newport

Recommended by Philip Hunter, Principal, Talent

Cal Newport observes that most people have lost the ability to “go deep” (i.e., focusing without distraction on cognitively demanding tasks) when required to perform at a high level. By re-acquiring that ability, we can not only produce superior work, but do it in a way that brings deeper satisfaction and fulfillment. The book offers simple and practical ways to cultivate deep work in our busy lives.

Image of the cover of the book "leadership and self deception"

Leadership and Self-deception

By the Arbinger Institute

Recommended by Melissa Hartley, Senior Consultant, Talent

This book puts the spotlight on how to see ourselves, our behaviour, and the impact we have on others. As a leader, if you aren’t self-aware or understand the impact you have on others, you end up employing the same strategies with everyone rather than recognizing and behaving in a way that reflects their uniqueness. This book prepares you to look at your leadership choices and observe them from an outsider’s perspective.

Mastering the Rockefeller Habits

By Verne Harnish

Recommended by Bob Tune, Chief Financial Officer

This is a great book for people who are working with high growth companies, regardless of the sector. Only 150 pages and written as a novel, Harnish focuses on specific initiatives proven to foster high growth. I found this book highly practical and applicable to help leaders better align their organizations.

The Great Gatsby

By F. Scott Fitzgerald

Recommended by John Bozzo, Transition Consultant, Career Care

What is “success”, and what does it mean to have, and follow, a dream?  Jay Gatsby is an idealistic dreamer determined to overcome his unassuming beginnings.  He believes that if a person wants something badly enough they can achieve it, no matter what stands in the way.  By pure force of will and by any means necessary Gatsby achieves the material wealth that he craves, but he fails tragically in his attempt to change the past and bend reality to fit his dreams. 

Image of the cover of the book "death of a salesman"

Death of a Salesman

By Arthur Miller

Recommended by John Bozzo, Transition Consultant, Career Care

Willy Loman’s dreams of success are not as grand as Jay Gatsby’s, but he clings to them determinedly even as they slip from his grasp as he ages and his life spirals out of control.  His sons, whom he has tried to mold to his own ideals of success and prosperity, may be doomed to repeat their father’s misery, pursuing lives that do not fulfill them.  Jay and Willy both believe in success, but they are unable to let go of the past and their fixed ideas of what constitutes “success” are unrealistic.  Their stories reflect universal themes which speak to everyone. 

How Women Rise

By Sally Helgesen, co-authored with Marshall Goldsmith

Recommended by Dauna Atkins, Senior Transition Consultant, Career Care

Helgesen has been cited in Forbes as the world’s premier expert on women’s leadership. This book explores specific behaviours that get in women’s way as they seek advancement, offering powerful solutions to help women realize their full potential.

Be Fearless

by Jean Case

Recommended by Dauna Atkins, Senior Transition Consultant, Career Care

Jean Case has been in the leadership arena as a technology pioneer and philanthropist.  Her book is full of stories and advice to embolden you to take risks and have a bigger impact.

Image of the cover of the book "bad leadership"

Bad Leadership: What it is, How it Happens, Why it Matters

By Barbara Kellerman

Recommended by Paul Bates, Chairman of the Board

This book provides an insightful analysis of poor leadership – how these traits develop and how we can deal with the results. Leaders who wish to provide a platform for clear communication and compassion for their teams must understand the good, bad, and ugly.

Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society

By Nicholas A. Christakis

Recommended by Paul Bates, Chairman of the Board

This book explores how leaders addressed challenging situations throughout history. The author explores our genetic predisposition towards making positive social bonds and the implications for societies worldwide. For leaders, this perspective provides an important reminder that even in times of conflict, our underlying motivations and intentions come from a positive place.

As a leader in the modern workplace, one of your greatest responsibilities is coaching your team towards high performance. These books can help you not only increase your own capabilities but also discover how to inspire others to reach their maximum potential.


Looking for more ways to grow as a leader? Check out Coach-like Leadership, a program offered by Verity’s theLEADhub, that focuses on coaching as an approach, mindset, and process that helps leaders bring out the best in each employee.

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