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A reading list of the 15 best business acumen books that will help you develop the skillset needed to lead successful teams in 2022. If you are looking to learn what it takes to deal with any business situation and skillfully lead it to a brilliant outcome, these books will help you get there.
Many managers who are just beginning to lead teams in their careers often feel unsure about how things will go for them. Some organizations don’t have the support structure in place for middle management. Upper management does not communicate ideas and decision-making expectations clearly. All of these make it difficult for even the experienced managers to lead successfully and confidently.
We have created a list of the best books that you can learn from to be a savvy businessperson and teach you the things your own supervisors never taught you.
Table of Contents
- 1. Influence, New And Expanded: The Psychology of Persuasion
- 2. How to Win Friends & Influence People
- 3. The One Sentence Persuasion Course – 27 Words to Make the World Do Your Bidding
- 4. Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets (Incerto)
- 5. Outliers: The Story of Success
- 6. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
- 7. Trump: The Art of the Deal
- 8. Win Your Case: How to Present, Persuade, and Prevail–Every Place, Every Time
- 9. The Power of Positive Thinking: A Practical Guide to Mastering the Problems of Everyday Living
- 10. How to Develop Self Confidence and Influence People by Public Speaking
- 11. The Magic of Thinking Big
- 12. Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America
- 13. What Every Body Is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People
- 14. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You (10th Anniversary Edition)
- 15. How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life
Best Selling Business Acumen Books
A business savvy manager will usually have a multi-pronged skillset. They are not necessarily experts in all these skills but they are more than handy in each. What sets them apart even more is that they have carefully selected this combination of skills. And it is this potent mixture that makes them top performing leaders.
Here you will learn not just about the best books needed to develop your business acumen skills. You will also discover a group of talents that when put together into one person, deliver a devastatingly productive and effective business leader. One who is willing to take on the most difficult situation at work and give it it’s best shot at success.
Best Selling Business Acumen Books
The books on this list are all best sellers. They have stood the test of time and are often recommended by some of the most successful business leaders.
Business Acumen Books For Beginners
As a new business leader, one of the most critical skills you will need to master is the art of effective influence and persuasion. If you can’t get people to do what you ask them, you will be stuck. Just because you are in charge of people, does not mean that they will always do as you say. The most basic business acumen skill you will need is how to influence people effectively.
1. Influence, New And Expanded: The Psychology of Persuasion
Learn The 7 Principles Of Influence from Cialdini, the Godfather of Influence. His principles make influencing so easy that even the most ordinary of us can do it successfully. This book will change you life. Seriously.
By Robert B. Cialdini, Harper Business; New York, NY; 2021 (New and Expanded Edition).
2. How to Win Friends & Influence People
This books has now been around for almost a century. And it still remains a highly recommended book. Dale Carnegie’s methods are simple, easy to apply. And boy, do they provide results.
If you can get only one book from this list of business acumen books, get this one.
By Dale Carnegie, 80th Anniversary Ed., Simon & Schuster, New York, NY 2009.
3. The One Sentence Persuasion Course – 27 Words to Make the World Do Your Bidding
A slightly different angle to persuasion in this gem of a book by Blair Warren. He strips the art of persuasion down to just one sentence. The gist of this approach is putting the needs of the person you are persuading first. Once they realize you are genuinely there for them, they will do anything you ask.
By Blair Warren, eBook 2012.
Financial Business Acumen Books
You don’t need to be a financial expert to lead people and solve difficult business situations. Avoid the books that teach you accounting and finance. Let your finance colleagues handle that for you. But here are two books about the financial markets and the role of luck in business opportunities.
4. Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets (Incerto)
Financial Times named this best business book of the year for good reason. Lucky performances get billed as brilliant because most of us don’t know how to tease out randomness around us. This books contains all of Taleb’s wisdom from his time as a highly successful derivatives trader.
By Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Random House, New York, NY 2004.
5. Outliers: The Story of Success
Not all success in the business world comes from what we might think. Riveting stories from one of our favorite authors that will show you how to make your own luck.
By Malcolm Gladwell, Little, Brown and Company, New York, NY 2008.
6. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
The book of how marketers have harnessed the power of people’s habits to get them to buy products. Also, how you can break unproductive habits in yourself and your team. Learn the psychology behind habits and how to change people’s behavior around you.
By Charles Duhigg, Random House, New York, NY 2012.
Business Acumen Books On Negotiation
Here are some of the best business acumen books that will teach you how to negotiate and create winning situations for your team.
7. Trump: The Art of the Deal
Half of the world likes him and half does not after his successful run at president. But make no mistake, his book was always the go-to book on negotiating in the business world. There is much to be learned from President Trump’s unique business-minded skillset on playing tough and getting his way.
By Donald J. Trump and Tony Schwart, Random House, New York, NY 1987.
8. Win Your Case: How to Present, Persuade, and Prevail–Every Place, Every Time
Gerry Spence never lost a criminal case as a prosecutor or a defense lawyer. The reason is that he knew how to connect with his jury and win them over. Learn his techniques and use them to win all the business cases you need to make.
By Gerry Spence, St. Martin’s Press, New York, NY 2005.
Basic Business Acumen Books
The two most basic skills for a business leader are always being positive even in the face of severe headwinds. And the ability to speak in a public setting in a forceful and confident manner. The two books below are classics and their eminence in their respective fields speaks for itself.
9. The Power of Positive Thinking: A Practical Guide to Mastering the Problems of Everyday Living
Affirmations and visualization techniques from the quintessential powerhouse in the field of positive thinking. Peale inspired countless other self-help gurus with his methods. But you can learn them first-hand in his worldwide bestseller.
By Norman Vincent Peale, Touchstone (Simon & Schuster), New York, NY 1952 (2015).
10. How to Develop Self Confidence and Influence People by Public Speaking
If you want to be able to stand before any audience and deliver high-powered speeches, this is the only method that is known to work. Another best-seller from Dale Carnegie for developing all the self-confidence you need to exude business acumen.
By Dale Carnegie, Gallery Books, New York, NY 1926 (2018).
11. The Magic of Thinking Big
Best-selling book on how to be successful in almost anything. Plenty of lessons for any business leader to navigate in today’s complex world.
By David J. Schwartz, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY 1987.
Business Acumen Books For Reading People And Situations
12. Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America
Learn how unproductive thinking keeps people and businesses back. Useful tips on how to spot them in yourself and others.
By Scott Adams, Portfolio/Penguin, New York, NY 2019.
13. What Every Body Is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People
The best book to learn how to read people’s body language. In the business world and in life, people don’t tell you what’s really on their mind. But if you pay attention to the body movements and facial expressions, you will be able to decipher all you need to know.
By Joe Navarro and Marvin Karlins, HarperCollins, New York, NY 2008.
Business Acumen Books To Develop Basic Leadership Skills
14. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You (10th Anniversary Edition)
Essentially the laws of business acumen training. Bestselling author, Maxwell, gives you 21 simple rules to be the best leader you can be in this management favorite.
By John C. Maxwell, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN 2007.
15. How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life
From the creator of the Dilbert comic strip, a must-read for teasing out the best set of talents from all the things you’ve failed at. No one can be successful at everything. From your failures will come the best business lessons to take ahead in your life into other situations.
By Scott Adams, Penguin, New York, NY 2013.
Best Books To Develop Business Acumen Skills To Succeed At Work
Outside of books, if you are looking for additional tips on becoming business savvy, here is an article that discusses the easiest ways to develop such a skillset.
Shaun Mendonsa, PhD is an influencing expert and pharmaceutical development leader. He writes on the topics of influence and persuasion, and develops next generation drugs in human pharma by advising international pharmaceutical CROs and CMOs. He can be reached at [email protected].
Business Acumen; Leadership Development; Public Speaking; Positive Reinforcement; Persuasion; Influence; Self-Improvement; Negotiation
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