15 Books HR Leaders Want You to Read in 2023
If you’re ready to sharpen your skills and advance your HR career in 2023, we’ve got the book list for you. We gathered 15 titles, hand-picked by our community of human resources professionals.
According to our pros, HR books don’t have to focus strictly on the HR discipline. Instead, they’ve recommended a thoughtful mix of content that will challenge how you approach broader themes that can greatly impact your work in HR, like strengthening interpersonal relationships, becoming an effective leader, and exploring self-awareness. Of course, you’ll also find titles that center around traditional HR practices, such as management, talent acquisition, and inclusivity.
Ahead is a preview of our full list of 15 HR books we suggest you add to your queue in 2023. You can download our complete list of must-read books for HR professionals below.
Free download: 15 HR Books to Read in 2023
1. How to Be an Inclusive Leader: Your Role in Creating Cultures of Belonging Where Everyone Can Thrive (Second Edition)
by Jennifer Brown
Chosen by: Charlesiah McLean, Head of Diverse Talent Workforce Acceleration at Novartis
“[This] is an incredible book where [Jennifer] details the attributes of being an inclusive leader and the four stages of the inclusive leadership continuum,” says Charlesiah.
It's an essential read for anyone who wants to become a better leader and create a more inclusive workplace culture. You’ll learn how to make a business case for diversity and inclusion along with gaining practical tools and strategies for managing unconscious bias, developing an inclusive leadership style, and building diverse teams. The book also includes real-world examples of successful inclusive leadership, leaving you with insights to apply to your own organization.
Read our interview with Charlesiah to see his other HR book recommendation and learn what podcast he thinks you’ll enjoy as an HR pro.
2. Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience
by Brené Brown
Chosen by: Cathy Henesey, Vice President of Talent Acquisition at AdventHealth
This book isn’t typically included on lists of HR books to read, but it’s one you’ll find applies to the human connection side of the discipline. Cathy suggests this book because “Brené has an uncanny ability to help people think about empathy and relationships in a more fun, practical way than the traditional HR lens."
“Atlas of the Heart” will help you navigate the nuances of your own experiences and emotional landscape, such as joy, grief, love, shame, and vulnerability—which are just a fraction of the 87 emotions Brené closely examines. By understanding how these emotions influence our lives, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of yourself and others. Heavily supported by research, this book offers guidance for cultivating meaningful connections with the people in your life.
Read our interview with Cathy for a few more human resources books she recommends reading.
3. Working Backwards: Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon
by Colin Bryar and Bill Carr
Chosen by: Dustin Cann, Senior Director of Talent Acquisition Strategy and Enablement at Splunk
“One of my favorite books is 'Working Backwards,' written by former Amazon employees about understanding what you are driving toward and how to get there,” says Dustin. “The strategies and mechanisms it offers have helped me think about how to prioritize work and show how talent acquisition is driving impact for the business.”
You’ll gain insights into Amazon’s business practices with practical steps you can apply on your own. The authors go over Amazon’s successes and its failures, showing how the tech giant navigated its biggest challenges (remember the failed Fire Phone project?). Plus, you’ll learn how Amazon leveraged its strengths to stand out in a competitive market.
Read our interview with Dustin to learn more about his philosophy and outlook of the talent acquisition space.
4. The Talent War: How Special Operations and Great Organizations Win on Talent
by Mike Sarraille, George Randle, and Josh Cotton
Chosen by: Nicole Goldman, VP of Talent Acquisition at Huntington Ingalls Industries
In this HR book, you’ll explore how the principles used by elite special operations forces can be applied to talent management in the corporate world. The authors pull from their experience as former special forces operatives and business leaders to provide actionable advice on how to attract, develop, and retain top talent. They outline the importance of developing a strong organizational culture, providing opportunities for growth and development, and creating a sense of purpose for employees. You’ll also learn the significance of identifying and hiring people with the right mindset and how to continually assess and adapt talent management strategies to remain competitive.
Read our interview with Nicole for her thoughts on leadership and authenticity, and what’s ahead for the aerospace and defense industry this year.
5. Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done (2011 Edition)
by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan
Chosen by: Sean Murphy, Head of Global TA Operations for GE
“Execution” is an HR book that Murphy recommends to his teams. “It is simple in its approach and focused on how to achieve tangible results,” he says.
The authors fill this book with advice based on their extensive experience in the world of business (one is a former executive at GE and Honeywell and the other is a management consultant). They share insights and advice on how to turn strategy into action to achieve success, offering a framework for aligning people, strategy, and operations. They also provide insight into what it takes to be an effective leader.
Read our interview with Sean for his take on attracting new talent to aerospace, defense, and energy.
6. Work Rules! Insight from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead
by Laszlo Bock
Chosen by: The SeekOut team
As the former Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, Laszlo presents a data-driven look into today’s workplace and sets up a blueprint for creating a culture of creativity in your organization. You’ll walk away with actionable insights centered around attracting the smartest people to your teams and keeping them there, including how to use data to predict and shape the future and what you can learn from your best (and worst) employees.
Watch our webinar with Laszlo Bock: Attracting Tech Talent in 2023
7. The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety
by Alan W. Watts
Chosen by: Eric Miller, Vice President of Talent Discovery & Insights at Paramount
You may be wondering why a book about anxiety is on an HR books list, but Eric points out that the content centers around “being present in the moment and building connections through active listening.” These skills are valuable to leaders in HR who are interested in strengthening bonds with their teams and the people around them. It's also a quick read at only 160 pages.
“I’m inspired by anything from Alan Watts,” Eric says. “He's a tremendous thinker and gets philosophical concepts across in a playful manner without overly flowery language.”
Read our interview with Eric to hear his thoughts on empathetic leadership, navigating uncertainty, and interviewing candidates in a post-COVID environment.
8. When They Win, You Win: Being a Great Manager is Simpler Thank You Think
by Russ Laraway
Chosen by: Stephanie Camp, Chief Marketing Officer at SeekOut
Whether you’re a new manager or you’ve been one for a while, "When They Win, You Win” will leave you with a fresh take on what it means to be a people leader.
With a nearly 30-year career in operational management, the author shares his key principles and techniques for cultivating a happy and productive team. He developed his approach at organizations like Google and Twitter and has honed in on three key elements of employee engagement: direction-setting, frequent coaching, and ongoing, long-term career goal management. Each of these elements are brought to light with real-life examples and actionable tips that you can take to your team right away.
Want more HR books to choose from?
The rest of our list includes a few HR books for beginners and books on HR strategy, plus more of our pros’ picks for the best books for HR leaders. Download the full list below.
Free HR Book List: 15 Titles to Read in 2023Download now
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