At Nelnet, education is important. It’s why we prioritize continual learning and pursuit of knowledge. We love learning. Our leaders regularly share book recommendations with associates in a series we call Leaders Are Readers. Now, we’re giving you an inside look at 10 of the most recent (and popular) editions.
Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You by Julie Zhuo
Considered a “modern field guide for leaders,” this book is a great one for those who aspire to lead (or have just taken on a leadership position). Author Julie Zhuo shares clear examples and insights from her first role as a manager at Facebook, where she’s now the vice president of product and design.
Diversity in the Workplace: Eye-Opening Interviews to Jumpstart Conversations about Identity, Privilege, and Bias by Bärí A. Williams
This book takes an in-depth look at what it means to be a minority in an American office. It includes 25 interviews with people from all walks of life, exploring diversity identities like race, gender, LGBTQ+, age and ability, and religion and culture.
Back to Human: How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation by Dan Schawbel
Technology is incredible. It’s revolutionized the way people get things done. But this book examines an often overlooked aspect of the workplace – the people. Author Dan Schwabel conducted a tremendous amount of research to determine how workplaces can be more effective if their team members feel genuinely connected and engaged. The book isn’t an argument against technology – it’s an advocate for a more harmonious relationship with it.
Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath
As those who bite their nails or have a sweet tooth can tell you, habits are tough to break. Authors Chip and Dan Heath use everyday stories to talk about the difference between what the rational mind wants and the emotional mind desires. It’s an interesting read with lessons that apply to everyone.
Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs by John Doerr
What does Google have in common with Bono and the Gates Foundation? They all use OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) to drive workplace satisfaction. John Doerr, one of the earliest major investors in Google, shows how the framework creates more effective workplaces by prioritizing goals and keeping people focused. (You’ll also hear from Bono and Bill Gates – bonus!)
Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries by Safi Bahcall
Innovation is a tricky thing. Yes, it hinges on good ideas – but there also needs to be a culture in place to help those ideas grow. Physicist, entrepreneur, and author Safi Bahcall goes beyond culture, outlining the actionable ways that teams can shift the way they work in order to actually embrace new ideas. It’s a good read for creatives, entrepreneurs, and anyone looking to learn. Plus, former Nebraska Gov. Bob Kerrey said “If The Da Vinci Code and Freakonomics had a child together, it would be called Loonshots.”
How to Be an Inclusive Leader: Your Role in Creating Cultures of Belonging Where Everyone Can Thrive by Jennifer Brown
“We know why diversity is important, but how do we drive real change at work?” Workplaces are most effective when people feel like they belong. Like they’re an integral part of the team. Like things just wouldn’t be the same without them. In this book, diversity and inclusion expert Jennifer Brown outlines steps that any associate (leader or not) can take to build more inclusive organizations.
The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth by Amy Edmondson
Trying new ideas can be scary. Without the right culture in place, half-ideas with the potential to make a huge impact go unsaid. People don’t feel like they can voice their opinions or are too afraid to “step on each other’s toes” to build on existing ideas. In this book, author Amy Edmonson establishes a blueprint that companies and teams can use to make brainstorming and collaboration a daily practice.
Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations Whole Hearts. By Brené Brown
For a while, it seemed like this was the book everyone was talking about – and it’s a favorite for a reason. It’s refreshingly honest about what it means to be a leader. The ability to ask questions, be vulnerable, and make actual human connections with the people you work with is paramount.
Go With It: Embrace the Unexpected to Drive Change by Karen Hough
“Yes, and” is a staple of improv comedy. It’s the idea that you never shut down an idea that someone comes up with – you find ways to build off of the idea to create something even better. And the philosophy isn’t just effective for comedians. Improv expert Karen Hough connects the dots between improv and innovation – and when done right, the results can be incredible.