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5 Books That Every HR Professional Should Read

5 Books That Every HR Professional Should Read

Staying on top of your HR skills and knowledge isn’t always easy when there’s a lot on your to-do list. However, taking the time to read books from some of the top leaders in the human resources industry can help cultivate thought patterns and exercises to help make your career in HR more fruitful and productive. Plus, reading can be a great way to wind down after a long day at the office—whether you’re working in-person or virtually. We’ve rounded up 5 engaging books that every HR professional should read.

This article is part of a series on HR Leadership. Read more here.


5 Essential Books HR Professionals Should Read in 2021

Whether you like to curl up with a good read on a rainy day or you listen to audiobooks on your commute to work, these books are sure to engage any HR professional.

  1. Work Rules! by Laszlo Bock

    From the head of Google’s People Operations team, Work Rules! is hailed as a “must-read” for every leader in HR, whether you’re new to human resources or a seasoned professional. Bock shares profound insight from working at Google, informed by behavioral economics and psychology. 

    Readers can expect to learn unconventional wisdom in leading and growing their organization, including lessons like using data to predict and shape the future, rather than just trusting your gut; being transparent to and welcoming toward feedback; and giving more freedom to employees than you’re comfortable with. Finally, from the author’s website comes the heart of the book: “Read it to build a better company from within rather than from above; read it to reawaken the joy in what you do.”

  2. Radical Candor by Kim Scott 

    Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity is a best-selling roadmap for managers from Kim Scott, an author and former CEO coach at tech companies like Dropbox, Qualtrics, and Twitter. 

    At a glance, the idea of “Radical Candor” is that, in order to be a good boss, you have to care personally at the same time that you challenge directly. The book has been read by various companies from Amazon to Forbes, and is celebrated as a great resource for teams to read together. The book’s website also supplies readers with resources to further engage with the lessons in Radical Candor.

  3. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink

    Daniel Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us challenges the conventional notion that people are motivated by monetary reward.  In the book, Pink emphasizes that “the secret to high performance and satisfaction-at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.”

    Drawing on scientific research, this book explores actionable insights on true motivation and serves as a great resource for both HR managers and their teams.

  4. Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Nell Scovell and Sheryl Sandberg

    In Sheryl Sandberg’s popular bestseller Lean In, the COO of Facebook sparks conversations surrounding women in the workplace and how women can achieve professional success as well as personal growth and fulfillment. 

    The book, which was informed by Sandberg’s TED Talk from 2010, has also expanded into, an organization that helps support women in achieving their goals both personally and professionally.

  5. Dare to Lead by Brené Brown 

    Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead is “the ultimate playbook for developing brave leaders and courageous cultures,” as described by the book’s website. Brown is a research professor and storyteller who is known for her emphasis and research on vulnerability, empathy, and courage.

    Dare to Lead takes a unique approach to examining how we can show up as courageous leaders while embracing our own vulnerability. The book is also accompanied by resources on Brown’s website that help dig deeper into the book’s insights.

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