I moved into leadership role with a larger team about a decade back. While the discussion were on about the potential role and I was weighing the pros and cons of moving into the role, the main question that I was struggling with and which was making me unsure as to whether I am ready to lead a bigger team. Also, do I know what would be the expectations from me by the leadership and most importantly by the team. While I was talking to my mentors, friends and seniors in the process of searching for answers to my dilemmas, I came across a chain-mail (there were no Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any other social media or any search engines for that matter at that time and the chain mails used to be the primary source of exchanging the general information) that was floating around with the key highlights of the latest book by Jack Welch, ex CEO of General Electric company called Winning.

The email had the key highlights of the book. Ostensibly, it was the promotional email for the book that had just been launched at that time.

Looking at the key highlights, I felt that I must read the book and I dived into it. When I finished the book, I realised that it was exactly the same stuff that I needed to read. The book played a big role in sorting out my dilemmas as well as confusions. This also ignited my hunger for more such books and I indeed read many more.

Considering that I struggled to get hold of relevant books at that juncture which every managers goes through, I thought of writing this blog with recommendations of 5 books. There are many more business books but these are the books that every aspiring manager shall read to begin with. If you are already into reading books but have not read these, I will strongly recommend you to read these books. On the other hand, if you are a manager with vast experience but have not read these books, I will still recommend you to read these books as they would expose you to a different thought process.

My recommendations are:
Winning by Jack Welch
Execution by Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Straight From The Gut by Jack Welch
The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz

1. Winning

The book has been written in 2005 by Jack Welch who was chairman and CEO of General Electric between 1981 and 2001. He is an chemical engineer. GE is the American multinational conglomerate which had an annual turnover of USD146 billion in 2013. The company has been consistently ranked amongst the top companies in Fortune 500 list. During the tenure of Jack Welch as CEO, GE grew by more than 4000%. This book is on top of my table and my top recommendation. The book has lots of practical tips that any manager would need.

2. Execution - The Discipline of Getting Things Done

The book has been written by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan. After a long and successful career with General Electric (GE), Larry Bossidy transformed Allied Signal into one of the world’s most admired companies and was named CEO of the year in 1998 by Chief Executive magazine. Ram Charan is a business consultant based in US and has consulted for companies such as GE, KLM, Bank of America, Praxair and Jaypee Associates. He is the author of various books on business and management. As the name of the book suggests, the book emphasizes on execution part of the strategy. The key message coming out from the book is that you should know your people and your business, Insist of realism, Set clear goals and priorities, Follow through, Reward the doers, Expand people’s capabilities and last but not the least Know yourself.

3. Outliers - The Story of Success

The book has been written by Malcolm T. Gladwell, who is a Canadian journalist author, and speaker. He has written five books so far and all these books were on The New York Times Best Seller list. Malcolm has looked at the factors that contribute to high levels of success. The book has mentioned or introduced the concept of "10,000-Hour Rule" which says that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours. One particular example that I liked was about a plane crash in which he mentioned that any crash or any accident is always a contributing result of 7-8 minor failures the prevention of which, if detected at that point of time, would have avoided crash. I am a strong believer in this that even in business context, this principal is always applicable.

4. Straight From The Gut

The book is the 1st book written by Jack Welch in 2000. In this book, Jack has captured his journey from his starting days at GE from where he started his career in 1960 till his retirement with a big focus on his CEO days at GE. He has candidly spoken about various initiatives as well as controversies of his time. One of the interesting part was the CEO selection process in the late 70's when he was the contender.

5. The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz

The book was written by David Schwartz in 1959. The book is a guide to every individual but very much relevant for aspiring managers. The book has lots of practical tips that will come handy for any manager in keeping him staying focused.

Before you get into reading any of these books, my suggestion would be:
1. Get hold of a copy of yours... hard copy or a PDF version.
2. Use the marker lavishly to highlight the points and sections that you like.
3. Do revisit the book periodically to look at the points that you marked.

If you have any more recommendations about the books, please suggest the names.