Two people are called for a final interview with the senior IT team managers. Both are equally qualified for the job but one is very personable, appears to be a team player and asks some relevant questions about the role and how what they will be doing fits into the IT strategy for the company.
Guess which one gets offered the job?
The one weakness I’ve noticed since I started in IT back in 2000 is that most people work hard on their technical skills but neglect soft skills. The certifications get you the interview but your people skills get you the job.
If you have strong people skills, can lead, set goals, deal with challenges and be adaptable then you will quickly rise to the top in any organization. The good news is that all of these skills can be learned if you know where to go.
I had to learn this the hard way. The fix is pretty easy though. Just spent a little bit of time each day reading some of the best personal development books on the market. Here is my list of 10 must-read books if you want to get ahead and get along with others.
- The Success Principles – Jack Canfield
The term ‘life changing’ is pretty tired so let’s just say that this book has had a major impact on my life. Paradoxically, it contains stuff you know already know but might not be implementing yet. Each day you can read one short principle so it’s an easy read. Examples include:
- Decide what you want
- Unleash the power of goal setting
- Be willing to pay the price
I reread this book every year because life changes and we are often in a different place and have different challenges. Highly recommended.
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R Covey
This is the book many gurus attribute their success to. I’ve read the book and even have a copy on cassette tape. A huge number of fortune 500 companies and government departments have brought in consultants to teach the subject matter of the book. Some of the habits include:
- Be proactive
- Begin with the end in mind
- Think win/win
If you apply the principles taught in this book your life and career will be transformed.
- Psycho-Cybernetics Deluxe Edition: The Classic Guide to a New Life – Maxwell Maltz
Maltz was a former plastic surgeon who was intrigued when patients came to him for alterations but were surprised when, after surgery they didn’t feel any more confident or self assured than before. He realized that change comes from the inside out, not outside in. He then created a powerful set of visualization tools which did help patients transform their self image.
Many of the psychological methods of training elite athletes are based on the concepts in Psycho-Cybernetics. The principle is that we can never rise higher than we believe we can.
I attribute much of my success to the principles taught in this book (and his CD sets).
- Speed Reading Secrets: Read Like a Pro in an Hour – Paul Browning
Yes, I wrote this one.
I used to wonder why I’d read a paragraph or entire page in a book and look back and have zero memory of what I’d just read. It was as if nothing was going in. You can imagine how frustrating that is. Then I realized that we get taught to read in school up to around age 8 and then we are left to struggle along.
I started to study the techniques used by world record holders in speed reading and it dawned on me that we are doing it all wrong. I learned methods that halved my reading time and quadrupled my retention. I now teach some of these methods at the start of my books.
It’s available in Kindle format only and can be read in a day. It’s full of techniques and exercises you can use to tear through books and recall everything you read.
- The 4-Hour Workweek – Tim Ferris
Have you heard about the engineer who talked his boss into letting him work from home and then trained another guy to resolve his support tickets while he went on a 5-week holiday in China?
This book is about working smart and surviving in the information age. The days of a job-for-life are long gone and you need to know how to adapt to a job market that is constantly changing.
I used Tim’s principles to grow my first IT company so I was only working four days per month. Although some of the advice is now out-of-date the concepts still apply today. Highly recommended.
- How to Win Friends & Influence People Paperback – Dale Carnegie
This book has been a best seller for 60 years now. It spawned a global company teaching the principles outlined in the book.
If you are working with people then this book is essential. You will be more likeable and find your working relationships are far more harmonious. Some of the principles include:
- Three fundamental techniques in handling people
- The six ways to make people like you
- The twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking
- The nine ways to change people without arousing resentment
- NLP at Work: The Essence of Excellence, (People Skills for Professionals) – Sue Knight
NLP stands for Neuro-linguistic programming. It’s a model for duplicating excellence which allows you to unpack how any person from top communicator to stand up comedian does it so you can model their success. I’ve invested many thousands of dollars attending NLP courses and it payed dividends over the years.
Instead of attending a course you can read this book which covers most of the core principles which you can quickly use to develop more self confidence and better relationships in and out of work.
- Winning with People: Discover the People Principles that Work for You Every Time – John C Maxwell
John Maxwell is the guru’s guru when it comes to relationships. His book offers 25 relationship principles you can apply at work, especially if you are or want to lead a team of people. Principles include:
- Each person we meet has the potential to teach us something
- Believing the best in people usually brings out the best in people
- Never use a hammer to swat a fly off someone’s head
- Thick Face, Black Heart: The Warrior Philosophy for Conquering the Challenges of Business – Chin-Ning Chu
This book was recommended to me by a friend who wrote a BAFTA winning play a few years ago. I’ve read it many times over the years. I can’t pin it down to one area because it’s both a success manual, strategy guide and personal development tool.
Thick face is a shield allowing people to put self doubt aside. They refuse to accept limitations put on them by others or self imposed. Black heart is a spear allowing you to take action without regard to consequences.
- Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life – Henry Cloud and John Townsend
I’ll never forget my first job. On day one I was supposed to finish at 5pm but the boss turned around and asked me to work until midnight. I’d made plans. I told him no and he stood there screaming and threatening me in front of everyone in the office. He finally gave in and found somebody else to pick on.
It seems to have become acceptable for employees to always be on call and check their e-mails in the evenings and on weekends (usually without extra pay). Without boundaries, you will become a doormat to others. This book covers boundaries at work, in relationships, at Church etc. Although it’s Biblical in nature, the principles are sound for any non-religious person.
Have I missed any off? I’m sure there are hundreds of great books out there worth reading but I’ve decided to limit the list to 10. If you have any favourites then post a comment below.