Highlighting the most influential management books past and present as selected by the Thinkers50 community.

ABOUT The Management Classics booklist

About the Management Classics booklist

What are the books every manager should read?

Every year we announce 10 more classic titles to create the ultimate management library, books which have stood the test of time and remain powerfully relevant today.

‘The classic management books are the ones that have had and continue to have a long-term impact on the way people think about and practice management,’ explains Thinkers50 co-founder Stuart Crainer. ‘They are the coping stones for modern management and remain essential reading for managers everywhere.’

As part of the selection process, Thinkers50 canvasses opinions from within the Thinkers50 community, garnering nominations from many of today’s most eminent business thinkers. Nominations are invited for books that influenced the way we think about and practice management, and which have left a lasting legacy that is still relevant today. The only rule was that participants are not allowed to nominate their own books.

About the best New Management Booklist

About the best New Management Books list

‘The Best New Management Books are the ones that have the potential to change the way people think about and practice management,’ explains Thinkers50 co-founder Stuart Crainer. ‘They offer a fresh perspective on how organizations are managed.’

As part of the selection process, Thinkers50 seeks opinions from within the Thinkers50 community, gathering nominations from eminent business thinkers and practising managers.

Nominations are invited for books that excel in the 3Rs:

Does the book address a current and pressing issue or challenge?

is it well-researched and based on real-world examples?

is it accessible, insightful, and inspiring?

The only rules for the Best New Management Booklist are that books had to be published after January of the previous year and participants are not allowed to nominate their own books.


10 Management Classics for 2023

The Management Classics Booklist is our curated collection of books which have stood the test of time and remain powerfully relevant today.

Competing for the Future (1994)

C. K. Prahalad and Gary Hamel

´Arguably the two most influential thinkers on strategy in the Western world.´

– Peter M. Senge, MIT Sloan

Discovery Driven Growth (2009)

Rita McGrath and Ian C. MacMillan

`These ideas are some of the most important tools of management and strategy that have ever been developed.´

— Clayton Christensen, author of The Innovator’s Dilemma

Good to Great (2001)

Jim Collins

´Good to Great is the business book of business books. It is the magic recipe for any leader looking to 10x. It is filled with more timeless wisdom than any book on the market today. As Jim’s Chief of Staff, I had the opportunity to see first hand the power of these theories come to life with the world’s greatest leaders and most prolific companies. It is a masterpiece.´

Amy L. Humble, President and co-founder, Disruption Advisors

The Art of War (5th century BCE)

Sun Tzu

´Written 2,500 years ago, The Art of War has inspired strategists in the military and in business — and continues to do so. It combines hard-headed competitive wisdom with inspiring advice; stealth and cunning plus timeless humanity. It isn’t the origin of strategy, but is one of its earliest and most practical manifestations.´

– Stuart Crainer, Thinkers50

The Female Advantage (1990)

Sally Helgesen

´The Female Advantage becomes more and more timely with each passing day. Too new to be a classic? Forget it, this book is already a classic!´

— Tom Peters, Thinkers50 Hall of Fame

The Fifth Discipline (1990)

Peter Senge

´Forget your old, tired ideas about leadership. The most successful corporation of the future will be something called a learning organization.´

Fortune Magazine

The Lean Startup (2011)

Eric Ries

´Every so often a business book comes along that changes how we think about innovation and entrepreneurship … The Lean Startup has the chops to join this exalted company.´

— Financial Times

The Reality of Management (1963)

Rosemary Stewart

´The most significant book seeking to round up the realities of management…since Peter Drucker’s classic The Practice of Management

Scientific Business

The Theory of the Growth of the Firm (1959)

Edith Penrose

´The basic propositions that Edith Penrose put forth in her book The Theory of the Growth of the Firm were provocative and path breaking. That path has become crowded with scholars of firm behavior, some of whom have only the dimmest awareness that the ideas they are working with were first put forward by Penrose. Her insights, her arguments, still read fresh and right, and finally will get the attention they warrant.´

— Richard R. Nelson, Columbia University

What Got You Here Won't Get You There (2007)

Marshall Goldsmith

´… Marshall’s proven improvement process ROCKS!´

– Alan Mullaly, Former CEO, Ford Motor Company

Best New Management Books for 2023

The Best New Management Booklist is a curated collection of notable and promising new releases —  books that have the potential to change the way people think about and practice management.

The Art of Active Allyship: 7 Behaviours to Empower You to Push the Pendulum Towards Inclusion At Work

Poornima Luthra

´What a powerful read! By presenting Active Allyship in the context of theory, 7 behaviours with practical actions and thought-provoking personal stories, Dr. Poornima manages to demystify this important topic. It may not be comfortable but active allyship is a highly necessary journey to achieve an inclusive working environment that we all deserve to be part of.´

– Winta Negassi, Head of HR, Northern Europe LCS, Google

Both/And Thinking: Embracing Creative Tensions to Solve Your Toughest Problems

Wendy Smith and Marianne Lewis

´I can’t exaggerate the importance and the originality of this book. And that is NOT hyperbole. Both/And provides us with a novel and unspeakably powerful and instantly usable way to reframe almost any problem. The argument is flawless. The case studies are engaging and powerful. And every significant point is backed up by unassailable research.´

– Tom Peters, recipient of the Thinkers50 Lifetime Achievement Award

Dare to Un-Lead: The Art of Relational Leadership in a Fragmented World

Celine Schillinger

´Sweeping and intelligent, this book is an extraordinary contribution, deeply researched and penetratingly insightful. Céline Schillinger puts broad societal trends into historical perspective to explain the present moment. She explains what’s at stake for the world and why it’s urgent that we act now.´

– Amy Edmondson, Professor, Harvard Business School and best-selling author of The Fearless Organization and Teaming

For the Culture: The Power Behind What We Buy, What We Do, and Who We Want to Be

Marcus Collins

´Diving deeply into what moves real people, not personas and archetypes, Collins gives us a look into cultural nuances we can use to make meaningful connections and drive action. This book is insightful, enlightening, and sure to challenge any preconceived notions about communicating with the world. Talk the talk, walk the walk, and always do it for the culture.´

– Jay Norman, Global Head of Music Marketing, Spotify

Head & Heart: The Art of Modern Leadership

Kirstin Ferguson

´Head & Heart is the indispensable companion for every leader seeking to lead effectively in this era. In it, Kirstin shared with us her wisdom as well as very practical approaches and tools to help us master the key attributes of modern wholesome leadership.´

– Hubert Joly, Former CEO of Best Buy and author of The Heart of Business

I Human: AI, Automation, and the Quest to Reclaim What Makes Us Unique

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic

´At last, a book on AI that focuses on humans rather than machines. A powerful case for reclaiming some of our most valuable neglected virtues.´

– Dorie Clark, Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Long Game

The Microstress Effect: How Little Things Pile Up and Create Big Problems—and What to Do About It

Rob Cross and Karen Dillon

´Cross and Dillon provide fresh insight into one of the most important topics of our time – why so many high performers are at risk of burnout in both their careers and their lives. Based on solid academic research, The Microstress Effect offers not only hope but also practical guidance for fending off microstress and living a rich, fulfilling life.´

– Susan David, #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Emotional Agility

The Tao of Alibaba: Inside the Chinese Digital Giant That Is Changing the World

Brian Wong

´In The Tao of Alibaba, Wong gives us a management philosophy rooted in true purpose and meaning, qualities urgently needed today. The book shows leaders how they can steer their organization toward maximizing performance while at the same time having a real impact on the world around them.´

– Arianna Huffington, Founder and CEO, Thrive Global

Think Bigger: How to Innovate

Sheena Iyengar 

´Iyengar inspires the creative problem solver in all of us.´
– Michael Bloomberg

Work Without Jobs: How to Reboot Your Organization’s Work Operating System

Ravin Jesuthasan and John W. Boudreau

´This timely book will help you radically rethink how to organize work.´

– Adam Grant, #1 New York Times best-selling author of Think Again and host of the TED podcast WorkLife


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