Business wisdom you shouldn't miss

Which of that teetering pile of books should you read next? Leaders give their tips...

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Last Updated: 11 Dec 2013

Recommendations always work a treat - after all, you don't want to miss out on inspirational wisdom or a competitive advantage through poor choice. Courtesy of leadership development organisation Common Purpose, and their 360 group of leaders, Management Today can share with you the inspired reading choices of some Britain's most successful business people.

Management guru and author Charles Handy recommends ‘The Mystery of Capital' by Heranando de Soto (2000). ‘De Soto's book shows that there is an enormous amount of untapped wealth among the poor, the problem is that they cannot leverage it in the way richer people do because their assets - land, buildings, or businesses - do not have proper legal titles. So obvious but so un-noticed until now.'

Tim Smit, chief executive of The Eden Project, cites an altogether different kind of book - Primo Levi's ‘If This is a Man' (1947). ‘His searing account of being incarcerated in Auschwitz and its effect on him and his neighbours. What should be a depressing book asks fundamental questions about dignity and the power of hope. Seriously, I have bought and given away more copies of this book than any other and no one has been other than deeply moved by its reading. It is also...short.'

If you're looking for management inspiration, then Henry Stewart, founder of Happy recommends ‘Maverick' by Ricardo Semler (1993). ‘A radical and inspirational approach to managing, based on trust and freedom. The inspiration behind Happy's approach to management. I like it so much I have given away over 400 copies.'

But it's not just about business. Who can ignore the genius of Joseph Heller's ‘Catch-22'? It's one of Richard Charkin's favourite books, and as executive director of Bloomsbury Publishing, his opinion in all things literary certainly matters. ‘I first read it aged 15 when I still thought the world might be rational. It helped me recognise the absurdity of organisations, structures, rules and strategies.'

MT agrees that it's a brilliant read for any workplace Yossarian looking to survive another day.

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