The most successful people in any profession do not walk in on the first day with all of the tools and skills for success. No matter if you are a school teacher or a business professional, there is always room to grow and improve. The more skills you develop and learn from other masters of your profession, the better you will become.
There are literally hundreds if not thousands of books for professional development. Some are better than others, while some are more specific to a particular profession. Sometimes you may find a book that is geared towards one type of business that can be applied to another.
What follows is a list of some of the best professional development books around today that deserve a spot on your reading list.
Habit is not only the key to success but also change. Many businesses, industries and individuals have failed because they did not know how or refused to change. Habit not only affects us professionally but personally as well. Developing good habits is the key to making positive changes in life and business.
In Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit, he examines the development of habits in people. Why do people do what they do? How can they have positive and negative effects on us? How can we change habits to make positive changes and achieve positive outcomes?
Duhigg provides studies of business owners like Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, Olympian Michael Phelps, and Martin Luther King, Jr., among others, to see how their habits made them successful. By making habits when it comes to exercise, diet and becoming more productive, we can create the habits that will make us more successful.
While it is not rocket science, there is a science to developing and sticking with good habits. Duhigg provides help in how to transform your business, your life, and your community.
Available on Amazon, $15 Paperback / $10.99 Kindle
Bestselling author Robert Greene has dedicated his life to unlocking the power and potential inside us all. In Mastery, Greene explores the ways people can unlock their potential in their chosen field through apprenticeship, learning from others and surpassing competitors to achieve success.
Greene uses case studies of greats such as Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin and Leonardo Da Vinci to understand the skills and traits that allowed these greats to become masters in their fields. Nine contemporary masters are also interviewed in this text to examine how these skills apply to the current world. By analyzing the lives of the great people of history, we can glean skills that successful people possess.
Robert Greene is a successful author in the business and personal growth field. Other books that may be of interest to you are The 48 Laws of Power, 33 Strategies of War, The Art of Seduction and The Laws of Human Nature.
Available on Amazon, $16 Paperback / $14 Kindle
Even if you have never read a Bible, you are likely familiar with the story of David and Goliath. A lowly shepherd boy armed only with a sling a few rocks stood against a giant warrior to determine the fate of a nation. Against the odds, David defeated the giant Goliath and took the first step to become a king.
In life, we may face obstacles that seem impossible to overcome. Poverty, illness, discrimination, loss of family, disabilities and lack of quality education can seem like things that we cannot overcome. For many, they do not, but others look at the opportunities offered and use the skills to overcome the odds.
Malcolm Gladwell looks at overcoming obstacles in David & Goliath. He examines several scenarios and events to see what is beautiful and important in adversity and suffering. From the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the work of cancer researchers, civil rights leaders, murder and the cost of revenge, and the dynamic of successful and unsuccessful classrooms, Gladwell takes the reader on a journey of discovery.
Gladwell’s book challenges the reader to look at obstacles and disadvantages in a new light. By finding the good in bad situations, one can find opportunities to overcome and be successful.
Available on Amazon, $9 Hardcover / $12 Kindle
One of the most important keys to success is building relationships. Relationship-building is not only vital in the professional world, but also for personal development as well. Creating and maintaining good relationships is dependent on habits. Good habits will give you the skills needed to be successful in life.
Over 25 years ago, Stephen R. Covey released The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Since then, this book has become the guidebook of countless CEO’s, presidents, parents, educators and others. His book will help you create positive changes in your life that will give you happiness and purpose in everything you do.
Available on Amazon, $17 Paperback / $14 Kindle
One of the challenges that many people face in business is pitching their ideas or products. The ability to effectively present your creation or idea to others is an important skill for success. While some people may be natural at public speaking or great communicators, others may struggle with this. Luckily, this is a skill that can be learned.
Pitch Anything will teach you the STRONG method for pitching your ideas. Oren Klaff brings his 13 years of experience in the business world to help you get what you want. Whether it is presenting your new idea to investors or negotiating a raise with your boss, Klaff will give you the proven skills to win in life.
Persuasive talking and writing are two of the most important skills one can have in life. With Pitch Anything, you can add this skill to your professional toolkit.
Available on Amazon, $18 Hardcover / $14 Kindle
So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for the Work You Love by Cal Newport
We have all heard the phrase “follow your passion” when it comes to finding happiness in your work. The advice seems sound, as we would all like to make a living doing something we are passionate about. The problem is some passions are better for hobbies as opposed to making a living. The counterpoint to this ideology is the idea behind Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You.
Newport destroys this idea of passion leading to finding a new career and instead posits that finding passion in the work you do will lead to better happiness. Often attempting to pursue a career in a pre-existing passion can lead to anxiety and chronic job-hopping. Instead, applying hard work and developing skills will allow for passion to grow in your career.
The idea is not that you cannot be passionate about your work and career, but that having skills and effort will maintain that passion. This book examines professionals in various industries and professions and looks at what skills they use to find satisfaction and avoid the pitfalls of their chosen field.
Jacob J. Sapochnick, an immigration attorney and entrepreneur, shared, “Every professional and young professional can relate to this book, and it can be an inspiration to every person.” He shared, “Personally speaking, this book impacted my mindset on pursuing my career, and it can also influence you in a good way.”
Available on Amazon, $12 Paperback / $14 Kindle
Many people have great ideas on how they can be successful. Sadly, for some of their ideas, they will not go beyond that initial stage of an idea. Some may start a project but never finish it to see it completed. Procrastination and doubt have curbed many people from fulfilling their potential.
Steven Pressfield has a simple answer for those of you that may feel that way: Do the Work!
The truth is, many of us get in our way to be successful. We may not want to do the hard work that comes with seeing our goals to reality, or we may just not know where to begin. Pressfield will give you the tools and motivation to see your ideas become finished projects. It is not about if someone has a better idea, but who is willing to put in the actual work. With Do the Work, you will begin the help to get out of your own way and be successful.
Available on Amazon, $5 Paperback / $14 Kindle
The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance--What Women Should Know by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman
Women have rapidly begun to take the lead in the business world. Successful women have been able to break through stereotypes and traditional obstacles to become leaders and owners of many professions. These women have figured out an important skill when it comes to the professional world...confidence.
Kay and Shipman examine why men have dominated the business world and what women can do to break through these barriers. The Confidence Code looks at successful women in politics, business and media as well as the author’s own lives to see what skills successful women have. By building self-assurance in women of all ages and professions, they will have the skills to become leaders of their professions at any career stage. Introverts, this one's for you.
Available on Amazon, $17 Paperback / $7 Kindle
Related: What is Business Casual for Women?
Dale Carnegie wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People back in 1937. Almost one hundred years later, it is still one of the most influential books ever written. Successful business leaders such as Warren Buffett swear by it.
No, this book will not make you a master manipulator to scheme and con people to get what you want. It will provide actionable advice to help you develop the skills needed to build successful relationships in both business and your personal life. Carnegie offers lessons on how to persuade people to your way of thinking and effectively communicate with others.
Carnegie’s advice has been followed by business leaders, politicians, and people wishing to improve their everyday lives. When you can build useful relationships and negotiate without causing hostilities, you will find not only your professionalism but also your personal life will improve.
Aaron Emmel, founder of Pharmacy Tech Scholar, thinks this is the one book every professional should read. He shared, "Carnegie’s teachings about the importance of expressing a genuine interest in people and how to invest time and energy in gaining friendship and trust are still relevant today despite the substantial changes that have occurred in society over the last century."
Available on Amazon, $14 Paperback / $2 Kindle
Are you a planner? Planning is one of the most common habits for us as human beings. We want to plan for tomorrow, next week, next month, maybe even next year. While there is nothing wrong with having a plan and setting goals, it can sometimes keep us from enjoying the present moment.
This is the message of Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. While the book is presented as more of a spiritual journey of self-awareness and understanding than career advice, the book also examines one of the major obstacles that can get in our way; the Mind. We often over-think and over-plan situations and do not take a moment to enjoy what is going on now. By helping readers to achieve a level of spiritual peace and enlightenment, it can give them the calm to enjoy life in the present.
Available on Amazon, $9 Paperback / $10 Kindle
Perhaps you have been lucky enough to land your dream job. You are in the career you want, and you should be happy. However, you’re not because you begin to doubt yourself. Maybe you think your employer made a mistake in hiring you, or you compare yourself to others that are more successful in your field. You may be suffering from a common pitfall of those that find themselves in a spot where they feel inadequate; imposter syndrome.
In fact, Nicole Garcia, CMO of Most Craft, shared with us, “I love this book. When I first started my small business, I got this book to help me overcome my anxiety over imposter syndrome.”
In You Are a Badass, Jen Sincero causes the reader to look at their own internal beliefs that build their self-doubt. By looking at these deep-seated beliefs, you can start to build more positive images and build confidence in your work and life. Sincero uses inspiring stories, advice and easy exercises to help you erase self-doubt and live the great life you deserve.
Available on Amazon, $9 Paperback / $10 Kindle
Take Control of Your Future
Becoming successful in your career takes a lot of hard work. Whether you are looking for that big promotion or to improve your skill set, you may need help from a pro. This list of great books will help you to put your future in your hands. From classics in the career development field to newer authors looking into skills for millennials and the modern workforce, there are plenty of great resources to help you reach your professional goals.
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The 11 Best Books for Professional Development:
- The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
- Mastery by Robert Greene
- David & Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey
- Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal by Oren Klaff
- So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for the Work You Love by Cal Newport
- Do the Work by Steven Pressfield
- The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance--What Women Should Know by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle
- You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Live an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero