Learning & Development

8 Personal Development Books for Professional Growth

By Beth Osborne for RallyBright

January 10, 2020

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Personal and professional development is essential at every stage of your career. While you are no doubt influenced by your peers, managers and mentors, it’s important to seek other fresh perspectives and learn from the experts. Professional growth doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process that evolves as you do. If you feel as though you’re in a rut and want to nudge yourself outside your comfort zone, personal development books can be a great resource.

We’ve put together a list of eight books on personal development that can help you grow and become more inspired and excited about your career.

Classic Personal Development Books

These books have been around for some time, but they are still valid in their messages on professional growth. Each of these books can serve as a cornerstone for anyone who wants to improve their life and career.

“Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spenser Johnson

Life is about change. But many of us fight it because it’s uncomfortable, and we feel that we don’t have control. This classic book is a must-read for every professional. It helps you remove the fear and anxiety when it comes to looking at the future. It’s a short book with a powerful message that can lead to new perspectives on the changing world.

“How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie

While this book was published nearly a century ago, it still rings true. This professional development book isn’t a master class on manipulation. Rather, it provides readers with the skills to express ideas and inspire those around them. These are fundamental skills for leaders, so if you have trouble communicating clearly and meaningfully, you’ll learn a lot from this book.

Personal Development Books for Millennials

Millennials have become the majority of the workforce in the U.S. According to Pew Research, 35 percent of the country’s labor force is millennial. And this generation is different from the ones before it. Many of them are digital natives and have different perspectives on what a career means to them. That doesn’t mean, however, that they don’t crave personal development. These books have the millennial generation in mind.

“What Color is Your Parachute?” by Richard Bolles

What’s great about this book is that it updates every year with new data, information and case studies on the job market. It’s hailed as one of the best resources for job-hunting, providing best practices on how to network, interview and negotiate. It works as a tool to help you discover what really matters to you so you can focus on a professional trajectory that will give you sustained happiness.

“The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg

Our lives are full of habits, some good, some bad. Bad habits can be detrimental to your professional growth and inhibit your emotional intelligence. But how do you change habits and mindsets? This book dives into why habits exist and how to change them. Duhigg, a business reporter, meshes data with compelling narratives to offer its readers the science behind habits.

“Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain

Not every introvert is a wallflower. Not every extrovert communicates well. The author challenges the supremacy of extroverts in our society and demonstrates how introverts are often undervalued. Cain introduces the reader to successful introverts that have been able to find professional success by speaking up. This book delivers great arguments, research and stories of real people.

Personal Development Books Written by Women for Women

Female leadership in the workplace is growing, but most women still struggle with how to juggle their careers and personal lives. There’s also the gender pay gap and continued stigma over “career-focused” women. These books aren’t just for women, however. They’re a critical resource for anyone who works with women.

“Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg

The Facebook COO started a movement with her book, igniting women to no longer be okay with the status quo. She reignited the conversation on women in the workplace, encouraging her fellow females to “lean in.” Sandberg delivers a rallying cry to women to stop holding themselves back and to change the conversation. She provides specific anecdotes, tips and strategies to empower women in the workplace.

“Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office” by Lois Frankel

What unconscious mistakes are women making that sabotage their careers? Could lingering teachings from childhood be the culprit? That’s the message from Frankel, as she documents specific behaviors that women learn in girlhood that won’t serve them well in their career. This book can help any women stop making errors that stunt professional development and success.

“The Confidence Code” by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

Confidence is innately tied to success. It’s hard to achieve when you don’t feel you’re worth it. This book offers women candid advice on self-assurance, deconstructing confidence and offering readers insights on how to bring more of it into their lives. Kay and Shipman reveal that confidence is partly influenced by genetics, but that it’s also something we can learn and hone. Their book offers an exceptional approach to the transforming power of confidence.

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