The Top 8 Essential Management Books Every MBA Student Needs to Read in 2020

Best management books for MBA

The next decade is going to bring a rollercoaster of challenge and opportunity to the business world.

The next decade is going to bring a rollercoaster of challenge and opportunity to the business world.

Environmental crisis, AI, big data, the rise of Latin America, workplace diversity, fractures in the EU and online security are just a few of the trends predicted to affect businesses worldwide in the coming years.

What kind of leader will you be in this ecosystem?

As a bright young manager about to step onto the stage, you need to be informed, ahead of the game and fully equipped to deal with the world and the economy as it is going to unfold in 2020.

Your time is precious, don’t waste it on books that aren’t relevant for now! We bring you 8 essential books that will prepare you to lead in the next decade.

The Lean Startup by Eric Reis

Published in 2011, this revolutionary book still tops virtually every must read list for budding MBA graduates. It’s sold over one million copies, been translated into 30 languages, and made the New York Times Best Sellers List. Reis’s concepts have now been adopted by over 25 business schools in America.

Harvard Business Review describes The Lean Startup as a ‘game-changer,’ because it proposes an entirely new approach to starting a business, made for the 21st Century. The Lean model is one that’s flexible, learns from customers, does away with rigid, traditional planning, and treats failure as a necessary step towards success. In this era of data, instant customer feedback and constant change, where 75% of all startups fail in their first year, The Lean Startup presents an alternative that every MBA graduate should pay attention to.

The Future Is Faster Than You Think: How Converging Technologies Are Transforming Business, Industries, and Our Lives, by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler

One to anticipate, this book is due to be published by the end of January and you just can’t get any more up-to-date than that! By the New York Times bestselling authors of Abundance and Bold, this book adds another angle to their existing analysis of the intersection between politics, technology and human life in the 21st Century economy.

In The Future Is Faster Than You Think, they examine how waves of exponentially accelerating technologies will impact both our daily lives and society as a whole, asking the question, ‘What happens as AI, robotics, virtual reality, digital biology, and sensors crash into 3D printing, blockchain, and global gigabit networks?’

Any MBA grad who wants to know how any one of these new technologies can be adopted by or affect their business should take a look at this book when it hits the market.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini, Ph.d.

Although it’s been around since 2006, this classic book on influence and persuasion is still a must read for every aspiring business leader. Cialdini shares 35 years of peer-reviewed research into the psychology of influence, and lays out his six universal principles of influence in a clear and readable structure.

It’s perfect for MBA grads, who will spend much of their lives in the near future negotiating, selling, or making deals. You’ll learn how to be an ethical negotiator, a skilled persuader, and how to defend yourself against dishonest attempts at persuasion.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

One of the greatest things about being a student is being able to learn from other people’s mistakes, without having to live them. With The Hard Thing About Hard Things, you’re basically getting the chance to be Horowitz’s pupil, shadow and intern, without even getting out of bed.

The book is a personal account by Horowitz of what he learned in the late 90’s and early 2000’s as the co-founder and CEO of a cloud services company, as it almost failed, shifted strategies, and rose to become a huge success. But, it’s also an honest account of what to expect when you graduate into the world of business. Horowitz is not afraid to call it: running a business and getting it to succeed is very hard. But, thankfully, he also gives you some wisdom and practical advice on how to survive, and thrive.

#MeToo in the Corporate World: Power, Privilege, and the Path Forward, by Sylvia Ann Hewlett

According to a Forbes magazine ‘Trends of 2020’ analysis, shifting company cultures and the introduction of new zero tolerance legislation means that the post #MeToo business world is going to have to pay more attention to sexual harassment, and gender diversity overall.

If you’re an aspiring business leader, it’s essential that in 2020 you understand the issues and how to lead when it comes to eradicating workplace sexual harassment. #MeToo in the Corporate World is a comprehensive overview for those of you who may be wondering what the post #MeToo workplace is going to look like. A recipient of the HR Magazine “Most Influential International Thinker” award for 2014, Hewlett is a widely published expert on the topic of women in business. This book provides reliable tips and actions for business leaders on how to navigate this sensitive space.

The Triple Bottom Line by Andrew Savitz

Although it’s not a new publication (from 2006), this groundbreaking thesis led to a new global, corporate movement after publication, and is now being taught in business schools worldwide. This book is a bible for a new generation of ethical leaders who realise that economic sustainability in the contemporary world relies on environmental sustainability and ethical practise.

Savitz has decades of experience in the corporate world, as a consultant and in business himself. With the The Triple Bottom Line he makes a case (and a road map) for a business model where sustainability is a fundamental business practice linked to profit, and not just a feel good side project.

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

Every business leader needs to be able to anticipate the future and adapt to change. This incredible ‘history of the future’ by the acclaimed author of Sapiens anticipates how technological and social change will shape a different future, one in which AI is a part of everyday life.

While Homo Deus is not a typical management book, it will nonetheless stretch your understanding of what’s possible, and help you to anticipate the near future. If you don’t believe me, listen to these CEOs discussing what they got out of reading it.

‘Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, is a fascinating look into the future too. While these aren’t traditional business or leadership books, they are all about people – and learning how to work with, live with, interact with people and get the best out of them is what leadership is all about.’ – Richard Branson (Virgin Group)

‘The book made me believe that we can chart our own future and that everything around us is constantly changing and if we don’t change with it, we will fail; and this works for both business and life in general.’ – Iqbal Ameer (Livescape Group)

The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle

In 2020, it’s essential for any successful business leader to develop a positive company culture and foster a diverse, inclusive workforce. Not only do diversity and a positive culture lead to better outcomes in innovation and the bottom line, it’s well established that this is how you attract the best talent.

The Culture Code looks at a motley gang of organisations in history, and reveals how their positive and inclusive culture led to their success. Drawing on examples that range from Internet retailer Zappos to the comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade to a daring gang of jewel thieves, Coyle offers specific strategies that trigger learning, spark collaboration, build trust, and drive positive change.

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