5 of the Year’s Top Management Books

Management books shortlisted by the CMI in 2016

A shortlist of 25 of the year’s best management books has been announced by the UK’s Chartered Management Institute (CMI), a professional body which strives to promote management and leadership excellence.

The shortlist aims to highlight management books that can make a difference to how people, “think and act as management and leadership professionals,” according to CMI director of strategy, Petra Wilton. Each of the shortlisted titles was published between August 2015 and July 2016 and has been recognized in one of five categories, based on its genre and the type of management topics covered. From each of these categories, we’ve picked out one that caught the eye here at TopMBA.com.  

What You Really Need to Lead1. What You Really Need to Lead

Leadership skills aren’t something you either have or don’t have, but are accessible to all who take the right approach, according to one of the books shortlisted in the ‘Practical Manager’ category, What You Really Need to Lead. The book is authored by Robert Steven Kaplan, a former professor and associate dean at Harvard Business School (HBS) who has served as president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas since September, 2015.  

Kaplan, who is also an MBA alumnus of HBS, spent two decades at Goldman Sachs prior to joining the faculty at his alma mater. He was described as having, “the right combination of leadership skills, business experience and public-service mindset,” by board chair at the Dallas Fed, Renu Khator, on his appointment last year. In What You Really Need to Lead, Kaplan aims to help managers work on their leadership skills by demystifying the concept of leadership, drawing on examples from his own experience in the process.

Superforecasting2. Superforecasting

The findings of a long-term project in which experts were found to be only slightly better at predicting the future than sheer amateurs using guesswork are discussed in Superforecasting, shortlisted in the CMI’s ‘Management Futures’ category. Worse still - for the experts at least – the top 2% of amateurs (defined as the ‘superforecasters’ of the title by coauthor, Philip Tetlock) were 30% more accurate, on average, than experts with access to classified information in one test which called for people to make 500 predictions over the course of four years.

Superforecasting looks at what can be learned from those who demonstrated a serious knack for predictive guesswork, and methods they employed in doing so. Tetlock, a management and psychology professor shared between the Wharton School and the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Arts and Sciences, coauthored the book, which has been called, “the most important book on decision making since Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow,” by the Wall Street Journal.

Originals3. Originals

A book by another member of the MBA faculty at Wharton, Adam Grant, is shortlisted in the awards’ ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship’ category. Originals aims to highlight the value of nonconformity, offering examples of how individuals can champion new ideas and how leaders can encourage original thinking in their organizations.

Its author is a member of the 2015’s Thinkers50 and seems to be a popular lecturer at Wharton, picking up a teaching award earlier this year for receiving the best instructor ratings from the school’s MBA students over the fall 2015 and spring 2016 semesters. Grant currently helms the very first core course on the Wharton MBA program, looking at the foundations of teamwork and leadership, as well as a course on organizational behavior. He holds a PhD in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan.

We Have a Deal4. We Have a Deal

Looking for something you can read – and feel inspired by - while travelling to and from work? That’s the aim of the awards’ selection in a category entitled ‘The Commuter’s Read’. One of the five shortlisted management books here is We Have a Deal, which considers the art of negotiation.

The book’s lessons are intended to be applicable to everything from big business deals to personal, yet often infuriating, matters such as renegotiating a mobile phone contract. We Have a Deal’s author, Natalie Reynolds, is the CEO of negotiation consultancy, advantageSPRING, which counts BBC News and JP Morgan among its clients and has also worked with Columbia Business School’s alumni network. 

Leadership Paradoxes5. Leadership Paradoxes

A former lecturer at London Business School, Morgen Witzel is one of the coeditors behind Leadership Paradoxes: Rethinking Leadership for an Uncertain World, nominated in a category reserved for those titles believed to best support a course of management study. The book’s focus lies in trying to show that the theory and practice behind building strong leadership skills must recognize leadership’s paradoxical tendencies. For example, in one of the book’s chapters, Jennifer Board, a former army officer and honorary fellow at the University of Exeter, discusses leadership and ethics and how the right course of action can become ambiguous when conflicting values are in evidence. 

Witzel helped teach an MBA course on the subject of doing business in China at London Business School in the 1990s, and is now a fellow at the University of Exeter Business School, where he has been teaching classes in its One Planet MBA program.


The management books above are merely our selection of five from the CMI’s shortlist of 25, from which five category winners and an overall winner will be selected and announced at the British Library in February, 2017, with judges on the final panel set to include the dean of the Open University Business School and the board chair at Bradford University School of Management.

McGill DesautelsHenry Mintzberg, who discusses whether an MBA is sufficient preparation for real-life management here on TopMBA.com, was the winner of the overall prize in the CMI awards’ inaugural edition, for Managing. Last year’s overall winner, meanwhile, was Frugal Innovation, a book coauthored by Jaideep Prabhu and Navi Radjou, a professor and fellow at Cambridge Judge, respectively. 

Images: We Have a Deal; Originals; Leadership Paradoxes; Superforecasting; What You Really Need to Lead

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Written by Tim Dhoul

Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).

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