Five Top Books for Working Women

BooksBy Elizabeth Harrin (London)

Wondering what to put on your holiday gift list? Well, there’s always more space on the bookshelf for a great career-boosting book. Here’s our round-up of the best business books for women at work.

  1. Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance by Marcus Buckingham.

    This is a practical guide to identify ‘what a strength is’ and how to put your strengths to work. “It is great for individual contributors and a powerful tool for managers looking to motivate teams and change the dynamic of the dreaded performance management discussion, which is so often focused on weaknesses,” says Camille Mirshokrai, Director, Global Leadership Development at Accenture. “This book is especially timely because Gen Y is focused on feedback, and this book can help managers channel that feedback in productive ways for the individual and the company.”
  2. Code Switching: How to Talk So Men Will Listen by Claire Damken Brown and Audrey Nelson.

    Ever wondered why you make a point and it’s ignored, only for a man to make the same point and for everyone to think it’s the best idea ever? This book addresses the critical communication skills needed to bridge the credibility gap and get understood. “It is timely because only 10% of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are women,” says author Audrey Nelson. “Women comprise only 17% of Congress. Finally, more women are in the workplace than men – due to the economy – at the moment.” A great book to hone listening and communication skills.
  3. See Jane Lead: 99 Ways for Women to Take Charge – And Inspire Others to Follow by Lois P. Frankel.

    Carla Brooks, managing director at Commerce Street Capital, recommends this book. It talks about the changing face of the workplace and the rejection of hierarchical and typically male management structures in favour of behaviours such as matrix management and influencing. It could be controversial: the author argues that women are natural leaders in the new office order. Top tip from the book: “Get to the point. Women have the tendency to use far more words than needed when influencing. Begin your communications with the one statement you would want others to remember if you had only enough time to say that.”
  4. Beyond the Boys’ Club: Strategies for Achieving Career Success as a Woman Working in a Male-Dominated Field by Suzanne Doyle-Morris.

    This book has a long title, but it’s my personal top favourite book of the year, because it is so practical. It is full of advice on how to get ahead, and while the case studies are from women working in male-dominated industries the points they illustrate are appropriate for all working women. “There comes a time, for many women, when they realise there is more to getting ahead than simply keeping their heads down and delivering a quality product,” writes Doyle-Morris. “You will be increasingly judged for the larger impact you are having through your relationships, your profile and your image.” The book reads like a personal career coach and while not all the author’s suggestions will click with everyone, you are bound to find something that you can do to help raise your profile, be more confident or get better connected.
  5. Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun.

    Taking on public speaking engagements can be great for your career and boosting your visibility within the sector. Even if you aren’t speaking to a conference crowd, the chances are you will have to give a presentation at work at some point, and not everyone feels comfortable standing up in front of others. Berkun’s book offers great advice to people giving large or small presentations, and it’s funny. He writes about the science of not boring people, how to work a tough room and the book also has a section on presentation horror stories designed to make your speech feel like it went really well. “It’s often the case that the things speakers obsess about are the opposite of what the audience cares about,” Berkun writes. “They want to be entertained. They want to learn. And most of all, they want you to do well.” Packed with tips on how to present effectively from picking a great title to managing the AV equipment on stage.

And if you don’t get one of these in your stocking over the holiday period, think about approaching your HR or training department to see if they have copies of these books that you can borrow – or maybe they’d be able to invest in some new publications if there is enough demand!

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