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The 57 Best Professional Development Books for 2021

What are the best professional development books that you keep on your bookshelves or your kindle? 

See, you can’t grow smarter and become a thought leader in your field without reading more than your competitors. For example, neglecting to read is detrimental to your brain sharpness and professional soul. 

As the author of My Philosophy for Successful Living, Jim Rohn said, “The only thing worse than not reading a book in the last ninety days is not reading a book in the last ninety days and thinking that it doesn’t matter.” Did you get that? 

I also agree with Napoléon Bonaparte’s statement: “Show me a family of readers, and I will show you the people who move the world.” In fact, I often say professionals who want to avoid living on fast food and surface knowledge, escape the status quo, and make a difference in the world—or in their world, should embrace reading and make it a daily habit. 

Maybe you desire to increase your reading to take your skills to the next level and look for ways to establish a consistent reading system. But you do not know which book to start with. 

No worries, this post brings some answers.  

Specifically, you can pick up our step-by-step checklist to create your personal reading system and select one topic and one of the best professional development books below to start reading today. 

Let’s go over the topics and the 57 best professional development books one at a time.

7 Books on How to Practice Mindfulness

professional development books

1- Practicing Mindfulness by Matthew Sockolov. The author covers topics ranging from a five-minute Power of the Mind exercise to a creative twenty-five-minute Open-Awareness one. For Instance, this book shares about 75 tips for the practice of mindfulness. 

2- Think Like a Monk by the social media influencer Jay Shetty. Jay discusses how thinking like a monk helps find purpose and attain inner peace and serenity. 

3- Mindfulness by Professor Mark Williams of Oxford University is filled with mindfulness exercises that might help you to break the cycle of stress and anxiety in your life. 

4- The Book of Joy, a collaborative work by two Nobel Peace Prize Laureates: The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

As Sir Richard Branson said, “The world needs joy and compassion more than ever before– and who better than Archbishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama to show us how it is done. This beautiful book takes us on the journey of their friendship and gives us the gift of their wisdom. A bright spot of hope and love in this world.”

 

Add these Three to your List of Best Professional Growth Books

5- The Power of Now. A spiritual work by Eckhart Tolle. The book discusses how to get on the path of personal growth and spiritual peace and how to turn yourself into the best possible version of you.  

6-The Little Book of Mindfulness by Dr. Patricia Collard discusses ways to attain long-lasting and everyday happiness.  

7- Stillness Is the Key by Bestselling author Ryan Holiday discusses the one quality that every great thinker and successful leader has– stillness or the ability to conquer their temper.

Specifically, this book shares insights to help you master self-discipline, achieve excellence, and arrive at contentment.

5 Books on How to Improve Communication Skills

More examples on How to use analytical skills

1- Everyone Communicates, Few Connect by John C. Maxwell. The book describes the path to acquiring the power of proper and timely communication skills. It also discusses how to build authentic connections and why it’s essential to do so.

2- Crucial Conversation Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry  Patterson,  Joseph Grenny, Ron Mcmillan, and Al Switzler.

To be specific, this book discusses communication strategies for stressful and challenging situations. It is a must-read for aspiring leaders. So, make sure to add it to your list of best professional development books on communication. 

3- I hear You. Michael S. Sorensen’s award-winning book is the Bible of successful communication. This book teaches skills and strategies to develop and strengthen communication efforts and relationships. 

4- Essential Keys to Effective Communication by Bento C. Leal discusses insights that are critical to having meaningful conversations, relationships, and daily interactions.  

5- Nonviolent Communication. Marshall B. Rosenberg describes a peaceful, non-hurtful approach to communication in this book. For example, he shows that being empathetic and understanding creates safer and more productive interactions. 

Best Professional Development Books on How to Deal with Power

professional development books

1- The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene. This book discusses how the world’s top politicians, business moguls, samurais, and diplomats amass power and maintain control.

Each chapter teaches how to navigate problematic situations, deal with conflicts, and avoid disastrous confrontations. 

2- The Art of War– Spirituality for Conflict: Annotated & Explained: Sun Tzu’s military masterpiece has been upgraded by Thomas Huynh to be more relevant to us. 

The 2500-year-old teachings of General Sun Tzu make you ready to face almost every curveball life might throw at you.

3- The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. A book about gaining and mastering power and control. Be it self-defense, conquest, or simply understanding war strategiesthis book divulges many secrets that help leverage and manage power.

Here are three More:

4- The 50th Law. A collaborative wonder between Robert Greene and musical icon 50 Cent, this book is rooted in the principle of fearlessness. It’s also based on 50 Cent’s struggle in life and rise to fame. 

This book is a must-read for aspiring champions.

5- The Prince by the fascinating Niccolo Machiavelli. The book is a literary manual on the art of power. The book gives insights into the workings of human society.

6- About Face: The Odyssey of an American Warrior. Colonel David H. Hackworth’s bestseller is a grim and realistic portrayal of the face of war. A vivid display of patriotism and the intricacies of warfare takes this book to the next level, making it a valuable work on the subject. 

Do you have questions or need support on this key topic? Email the CBL Team now and check out our book: Creating Winning Career Systems.  

Top 6 Books on Personal Branding

professional development books

 1- Influencer: Building Your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media by social media strategist Brittany Hennessy. This book is all about creating your desired social media presence, along with tips to follow and mistakes to avoid.

2- Building a Story Brand. New York Times bestselling author Donald Miller discusses essential elements you should include in your professional presentation and communication to pitch your product, ideas, and solutions.

3- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill discusses the ‘Law of Success’ and the reasons behind the immense success of business tycoons like Andrew Carnegie.

The book combines philosophy and strategies to offer timeless advice on becoming and presenting oneself as a winner.

4- As a Man Thinketh by James Allen. The author discusses how one can control life’s events and circumstances. He also elaborates on the role that thoughts play on one’s life. 

5- Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. In this book, Brene Brown discusses the root of leadership and the real duties of a leader. This book also shares insights on how to lead with boldness. 

6- Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin. The book discusses how professionals can become linchpins, do remarkable work, and drive innovation and change.  Frankly, this book is a must-read because one can’t become a thought leader if he is not a linchpin. 

Best Professional Development Books on Improving Business Development Skills

professional development books

 1- Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to build the future by Peter Thiel. This book talks about stagnation, explains vertical progress, and describes how to drive innovation.

2- The Hard Thing About Hard Things. This book by Silicon Valley’s most experienced entrepreneur, Ben Horowitz, is filled with humor and advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. It discusses issues and solutions B-school does not cover.

3- PEAK: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow. This book is based on the principles of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In it, former CEO Chip Conley shares a framework that drives improvement.

4- Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively by the legendary co-founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, and Chris Yeh.

This book discusses how to set your business apart from those that are dying. It shares a formula that helps companies scale to join the league of global giants.

 

More on Business Skills 

5- The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. In this book professor, Scott Galloway describes what makes the big four successful. Whether you are here to compete with them or work by their side, understanding The Four’s business mantras is necessary. 

6- Innovation and Entrepreneurship. This Peter Drucker’s book describes the systematic and functional discipline of innovation and entrepreneurship. In it, Peter provides tips on building a sustainable and successful business in this competitive economy. 

7- Good to Great. This book by Jim Collins is the noted observations and tips offered by his research team after studying the growth history of several successful companies.

In this book, Jim discusses the type of leadership that can make mediocre companies great. He also explains how to avoid the curse of basic competency.

6 Books on How to Deal with Change for Open-Minded People

More Strategies on How to read a book

1- Future Shock by Alvin Toffler is a good read which focuses on the dynamic of change in the present versus the future. From highlighting the shift in globalization to domestic politics, the inconstancy of work and life is designed to provoke a change in you.

2- The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly is a not-to-be-missed book for those who wish to upgrade themselves according to the current and upcoming technological trends.

3- The Heart of Change. This book, by leadership experts John Kotter and Dan Cohen, discusses the problematic nature of change. It describes why it’s hard to change people’s behaviors, including yours.

 

We Can’t Ignore the Following Three: 

4- Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard. If you are looking for a book that will help you figure out a way to get around your limitations, this is the one for you. The authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath share insights on humans’ behavioral patterns and how to cope with limitations.  

5- Atomic Habits by James Clear. This book shares a formula and a framework for change. The author also explains how atomic habits and small alterations can result in massive change.  

6- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Dr. Stephen Covey is a silver jubilee bestseller that has transformed the lives of renowned CEOs, Presidents, educators, and students. Following the seven habits might completely change your life for the better.

Best Professional Development Books on How to Develop Emotional Maturity

If you're not a bookworm and still like to collect books, do not fret. You might not read much in a day, but you can indeed read in smarter ways.

1- Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves. This book highlights the difference between knowing the meaning of emotional quotient and using it to improve your life.

The book is a must-read as it has been written mainly to help increase your emotional quotient. 

2- Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman. The author compares people of high IQ with low emotional intelligence and those with modest IQ and high emotional quotient. Moreover, it explains why the latter group reaches a surprising level of success in many areas of life.  

3- Permission to Feel. Marc Brackett’s book is a culmination of insights on science, passion, and mental-wellbeing, and might inspire awareness in you and a desire to change for the better.  

 

Don’t Forget the Following Three Best Professional Development books:

4- I Hear You. In this book, Michael S. Sorensen discusses the critical ingredient of successful communication skills. Whether you wish to improve your personal relationships or build up stronger, professional ones, this book provides pointers to sustain every kind of relationship. 

5- The Emotion Code: This powerful, thought-provoking work of Dr. Bradley Nelson lays presents the secret on how your mind works in a simple yet profound manner. This book also discusses why and how to let go of emotional baggage and negative emotional energies.  

6- How to Talk to Anyone by life coach Leil Lowndes offers tips and advice on the psychology behind successful communication. With easy to use techniques, it qualifies as a beneficial read for any situation.

Top 7 Books on How to Develop Leadership Skills

organizational control

1- The Essential Demming: Leadership Principles from the Father of Quality by W. Edwards Demming. If you are looking for ways to become a true leader, this is the ultimate book for you. It offers pointers on why collective performance matters when you are trying to take a company or organization to the next level. 

2- The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Written by the internationally renowned leadership expert John C. Maxwell, this book presents a clear explanation of 21 must-know leadership laws. It also teaches how to develop sharp leadership skills.  

3- Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek. This New York Times Bestseller explains the difference between self-centered vs. inspiring and servant leadership. This is a must-read for aspiring leaders who care. 

4- Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success is written by Phil Jackson, the man who coached Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman, and Kobe Bryant by inspiring in them devotion towards sportsmanship. The book presents an unconventional approach to leadership based on selflessness, authenticity, and teamwork.

 

Take a Look at the Following Three:

5- The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership by James C. Hunter. Many so-called leaders misunderstand the essence of leadership. You can avoid this mistake by reading this book and applying your learning to make the world a better place. 

6- HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Leadership – This is a best-selling collection of the top 10 leadership articles of Harvard Business Review. Each article tackles a leadership challenge worth learning about. 

7- The Essential Drucker offers a toolbox of insights to reinforce your leadership cabinet. These essential principles by the Father of modern management, Peter F. Drucker, is a must-read for every aspiring leader

Top 7 Books to Read Secretly on How to Develop People Skills

workplace mistake

1- How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This classic teaches how to make more friends and stop making enemies. If you don’t want your colleagues to hate you, read this book.   

2- The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. Reading this book will help rise above office politics, dramas, and power struggles. This book can also help you leverage power at work and in life in general. 

3- The Laws of Human Nature. This bestseller by Robert Greene is not for the faint of heart. It presents the ABC of what motivates and drives people’s actions. Reading this publication will help you understand the art of self-protection and view why most people put up a façade. Please read it secretly. 

4- Talking to Strangers– This gem by Malcolm Gladwell will encourage you to examine your biases and avoid making regrettable mistakes in your daily interactions with people you do not know. 

5- Art of Seduction. In this book, the maestro of soft skills, Robert Greene, teaches how to charm others and protect yourself against seducers. The title says it all.

 

You Should also Consider the Next Two Books: 

6- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. Do you want to win in the game of influence and build lasting success? Read this classic and apply Robert B. Cialdini’s insights. 

7- Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It. This book by the former FBI hostage negotiator Chriss Voss discusses the secret of successful negotiations. 

To circle back, what book are you going to start reading this week? 

Do you have questions on how to rise about competition in your field? Shoot the CBL Team an email and check out our book: Creating Winning Career Systems.

Please share the  57 best professional development books with a smart friend or colleague that you care about. And don’t forget to sign up for our blog.

 

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The coach
Coach Teddy Edouard is a lifelong learner, public speaker, writer, blogger and vlogger. He is the founder of Coaching for Better Learning, where he helps people and institutions build systems that lead to lasting improvement, growth, and success. He also teaches professionals how to protect their careers and use artificial intelligence (AI) as a career improvement ally.

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