Alexis Monville (en)

Beyond Top Ten: My Essential Non-Fiction Reads for Leadership and Personal Growth

A few months ago, Kevin Fishner presented me with an intriguing challenge: to list my top non-fiction books. As simple as it sounds, this task quickly unfolded into a reflective journey through the pages that have shaped my understanding of leadership, personal growth, and organizational development. But how does one confine such a wealth of knowledge and inspiration to a mere top ten? The truth is, it’s not just about ranking books; it’s about recognizing the unique value each one brings to different stages of our journey and the varied challenges we face.

In this list, you won’t find a conventional top ten. Instead, I offer a collection of books, each holding a special place in my library and my heart. These are books that have not only influenced my thoughts but have also been integral tools in my workshops with teams during my career and now at Pearlside. They are more than reads. They are experiences shared, lessons learned, and wisdom applied. From fostering an understanding of team dynamics with Patrick Lencioni’s insightful fables to navigating the complexities of global business using Erin Meyer’s ‘The Culture Map,’ each book has been a key in unlocking potential – both in myself and in the teams I’ve had the privilege to coach and guide.

Join me as I share this curated list, a tapestry of narratives and insights that have been pivotal in my journey as a co-founder and leadership coach. Whether you are at the onset of your career, leading a startup, or steering an established organization, these books offer a compass to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of leadership and personal growth.

In the realm of leadership and team development, certain books have transcended the role of mere guides, becoming instrumental tools in my workshops at Pearlside. These selected works offer theoretical insights and have proven to be practical in real-world applications. Let’s delve into these cornerstone books:

  1. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni: Lencioni’s captivating fable delves into the heart of team collaboration – or the lack thereof. In my workshops, this book serves as a mirror for teams to reflect on their own dynamics. Through its compelling narrative, it provides a framework for understanding and overcoming common obstacles to teamwork, turning theoretical concepts into tangible actions. I wrote a post reflecting on my experience with a leadership team here.
  2. The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni: Building on the themes of his previous work, this book offers a holistic view of organizational health. Our workshops explore Lencioni’s model as a roadmap to achieving business success through cultural coherence and leadership clarity. It’s a powerful guide for leaders seeking to cultivate a vibrant and productive workplace culture. I wrote about this here.
  3. The Culture Map by Erin Meyer: In today’s globalized business environment, understanding and navigating cultural differences is paramount. Meyer’s book is a key resource in our workshops for developing cultural intelligence. It equips leaders with the tools to effectively manage and lead across diverse cultural landscapes, enhancing global collaboration and empathy. I used again the Culture Map in a workshop just a few weeks ago.
  4. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Goldsmith Marshall: This book addresses the subtle nuances of personal growth and behavioral change essential for leadership advancement. In our sessions, we use Marshall’s insights to help leaders identify and rectify the small, yet impactful, habits that can hinder their progress, fostering a mindset geared towards continuous improvement. I explain how I conduct the workshop here.
  5. Understanding A3 Thinking by Durward K. Sobek II: A3 thinking is more than a problem-solving tool; it’s a methodology to foster critical thinking and communication. I love using the approach to structuring thought processes and decision-making, enabling leaders and teams to tackle complex challenges systematically.

Reviewing the list, I realized that I used many other books in my workshops, books by Deming, Drucker, and Senge to name a few. It gives me ideas for more writing!

Here is the alphabetical list of books:

  1. A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking
  2. A Business and Its Beliefs: The Ideas That Helped Build IBM – Thomas J. Watson Jr.
  3. A Little History of Philosophy (Little Histories) – Nigel Warburton
  4. American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company – Bryce G. Hoffman
  5. An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization – Robert Kegan
  6. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking – Malcolm Gladwell
  7. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (Good to Great, 2) – James C. Collins
  8. Business Model Generation – Alexander Osterwalder
  9. Changing on the Job: Developing Leaders for a Complex World – Jennifer Garvey Berger
  10. Chimp Paradox: How Our Impulses and Emotions Can Determine Success and Happiness and How We Can Control Them – Steve Peters
  11. Collaboration by design: Your Field Guide for Creating More Value When Bringing People Together – Philippe Coullomb
  12. Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice – Clayton M. Christensen
  13. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration – Ed Catmull
  14. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose – Tony Hsieh
  15. Freedom, Inc.: Free Your Employees and Let Them Lead Your Business to Higher Productivity, Profits, and Growth – Brian M. Carney
  16. Good Authority: How to Become the Leader Your Team Is Waiting For – Jonathan Raymond
  17. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t – James C. Collins
  18. Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck–Why Some Thrive Despite Them All (Good to Great, 5) – James C. Collins
  19. Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow – Yuval Noah Harari
  20. How Not to Diet – Michael Greger
  21. How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
  22. Humanocracy: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them – Gary Hamel
  23. I’m a Joke and So Are You: Reflections on Humour and Humanity – Robin Ince
  24. Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization (Leadership for the Common Good) – Robert Kegan
  25. Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love – Richard Sheridan
  26. L’art de devenir une équipe agile – Claude Aubry
  27. Lean Management: Mieux, plus vite, avec les mêmes personnes. – Pierre Pezziardi
  28. Legacy: What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About the Business of Life – James Kerr
  29. Leonardo da Vinci – Walter Isaacson
  30. Les mots sont des fenêtres (ou bien ce sont des murs): Introduction à la Communication Non Violente – Marshall B. Rosenberg
  31. Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor E. Frankl
  32. Managing for Happiness: Games, Tools & Practices to Motivate Any Team – Jurgen Appelo
  33. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It – Chris Voss
  34. Outliers: The Story of Success – Malcolm Gladwell
  35. Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity – Kim Malone Scott
  36. Radical Product Thinking: The New Mindset for Innovating Smarter – R Dutt
  37. Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up – Jerry Colonna
  38. Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness – Frederic Laloux
  39. Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (And World Peace) – Chade-Meng Tan
  40. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike – Phil Knight
  41. Spiral Dynamics Integral: Learn to Master the Memetic Codes of Human Behavior – Don Edward Beck
  42. Stupid, Ugly, Unlucky and Rich: Spike’s Guide to Success – Richard St. John
  43. Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character – Richard P. Feynman
  44. **Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know** – Malcolm Gladwell
  45. Team Topologies: Organizing Business and Technology Teams for Fast Flow – Matthew Skelton
  46. The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals – Chris McChesney
  47. The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict – The Arbinger Institute
  48. The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters – Priya Parker
  49. The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity – Julia Cameron
  50. The Autobiography of Malcolm X – Malcolm X
  51. The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever – Michael Bungay Stanier
  52. The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business – Erin Meyer
  53. The Diamond Cutter: The Buddha on Managing Your Business and Your Life – Michael Roach
  54. The Dream Team Nightmare – Portia Tung
  55. The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization – Peter M. Senge
  56. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable – Patrick Lencioni
  57. The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement – Eliyahu M. Goldratt
  58. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers – Ben Horowitz
  59. The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work – Shawn Achor
  60. The Lean Manager: A Novel of Lean Transformation – Michael Ballé
  61. The Manager’s Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change – Camille Fournier
  62. The Meme Machine – Susan Blackmore
  63. The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win – Gene Kim
  64. The Qualified Sales Leader: Proven Lessons from a Five Time CRO – John McMahon
  65. The Rider – Tim Krabbé
  66. The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion – Jonathan Haidt
  67. The Sketchnote Handbook: the illustrated guide to visual note taking – Mike Rohde
  68. The Soul of a New Machine – Tracy Kidder
  69. The Southwest Airlines Way – Jody Hoffer Gittell
  70. The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations – Ori Brafman
  71. The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World’s Greatest Manufacturer – Jeffrey K. Liker
  72. Thinking In Systems: A Primer – Donella H. Meadows
  73. Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
  74. Training from the Back of the Room!: 65 Ways to Step Aside and Let Them Learn – Sharon L. Bowman
  75. Unflattening – Nick Sousanis
  76. Understanding A3 Thinking: A Critical Component of Toyota’s PDCA Management System – Durward K. Sobek II
  77. Visual Teams: Graphic Tools for Commitment, Innovation, and High Performance – David Sibbet
  78. When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
  79. When They Win, You Win: Being a Great Manager Is Simpler Than You Think – Russ Laraway
  80. Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future – Joichi Ito
  81. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
  82. Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams – Matthew Walker
  83. Work is Love Made Visible: A Collection of Essays About the Power of Finding Your Purpose From the World’s Greatest Thought Leaders (Frances Hesselbein Leadership Forum) – Frances Hesselbein
  84. Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead – Laszlo Bock
  85. #Workout: Games, Tools & Practices to Engage People, Improve Work, and Delight Clients – Jurgen Appelo

The journey through these pages has been more than an academic exercise; it has been a voyage of personal and professional discovery. Each book on this list has left an indelible mark on my approach to leadership, team building, and personal growth. They have been companions and guides, challenging my perceptions, affirming my experiences, and inspiring new ways of thinking and leading. In my work at Pearlside, these books have informed our methodologies and helped shape the transformative experiences we strive to create for our clients.

In sharing this list, I invite you to view these books not just as a collection of titles, but as a mosaic of knowledge, each piece offering unique insights relevant to different stages of your journey. Whether you are navigating the complexities of team dynamics, cultural diversity, personal growth, or organizational change, these books provide a wealth of wisdom to guide you.

Call to Action:

Now, I turn the page over to you. What are the books that have profoundly impacted your journey? Which titles resonate with your current challenges and aspirations? I encourage you to share your thoughts and recommendations in the comments. Let’s continue this conversation and enrich our collective journey with diverse perspectives and insights.



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