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Top L&D books for ambitious learning leaders

6 minute read

What are the best Learning and Development books to keep you a step ahead in your career? We’ve asked some of the biggest names in L&D on the Learning at Large Podcast for their book recommendations! Read on for the ultimate list of top L&D books that all learning leaders should read.

Top LD books for ambitious learning leaders

Top 10 L&D books recommended by the experts

1. Lead. Care. Win.: How to Become a Leader Who Matters, Dan Pontefract

Lori niles hofmann top L&D books

This book allows you to become a more caring and engaging leader, helping you to build meaningful, respectful relationships, and understand that every human interaction is crucial. 

“What I love about it is that it’s not just a book, there’s also practice. It is a completely immersive learning experience, it’s positively brilliant! He’s looking at leadership in a very different lens, it is about leading with empathy and compassion.”

– Lori Niles-Hofmann, Senior Learning EdTech Transformation Strategist at NilesNolen.

Hear more from Lori on how to fill skill gaps with ‘right skilling’ by checking out the full podcast episode.

2. The 5 Personality Patterns: Your Guide to Understanding Yourself and Others and Developing Emotional Maturity, Steven Kessler

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Leena and James recommended this book as it explores what’s going on inside people: to understand what motivates and matters to them and how to influence and communicate with them successfully.

“It helps you understand yourself and develop emotional maturity.”

– Leena Nair, Chief Human Resources Officer, at Unilever.

Listen to Leena Nair and James Hu about how they are democratizing learning at Unilever by finding out why connecting every person with their purpose is the key to success. Check out their latest podcast with us.

3. Design Thinking for Training and Development: Creating Learning Journeys That Get Results, Sharon Boller, Laura Fletcher

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When learning is seen as a one-time event, the employee and the business suffer. This book lets you discover how to design learning so it sticks and drives improved performance.

“It really takes the design and thinking concept, and applies it to what we do every day. There are some great points in this book, in terms of how we think about design, and how it’s different from the traditional method we have done in the past.”

– Patrick Bowl, Learning and Development Director, Worldpay.

Hear more from Patrick on how to pivot to a blended digital learning approach to support a sales team by checking out the full podcast episode.

4. Everyday Chaos: Technology, Complexity, and How We’re Thriving in a New World of Possibility, David Weinberger

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In a complex and unpredictable world, things are constantly changing. This book explores how to embrace the possibilities that disruption presents. 

“It really looks at all the disruption which is happening all around the world, it talks about AI and the practical examples of that. Also talks about what that means behaviourally for human beings and it talks about approaches to how you embrace disruption and embrace the change that it brings, and look at the opportunities that can offer.”

– Martin Peart, People Effectiveness Director, GSK.

Find out why Martin believes that less is more when it comes to learning content by listening to the full podcast episode.

5. Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business, Erin Meyer

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Effective communication is vital in a global business. This book helps to navigate cultural differences and achieve mutual understanding.

“This is the go-to for anyone who wants to communicate the best way that they can do with anyone, regardless of where they come from. I cannot recommend the Culture Map enough.”

– Mary Glowacka, former Vice President of Leadership Development & Engagement at Bank of America.

Check out how a human-centered approach is key to effective learning by listening to the full podcast episode.

6. Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones, James Clear

Ashley SInclair

How can you keep people engaged in learning? James Clear explores how minuscule changes can grow into life-altering habits.

“That’s been really interesting for me, as I think of it through the L&D space, and then also in the marketing space. It takes you through how the brain works and if we want to change our habits, we have to do certain things.”

– Ashley Sinclair, Managing Director at MAAS Marketing.

Hear more from Ashley on how to use marketing techniques to deliver a strong impact by checking out the full podcast episode.

7. Disconnected: How to use People Data to Deliver Realness, Meaning, and Belonging at Work, Colleen McFarland

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If you want to build effective training, you need to connect with the next generation. This book explores how to create data-driven learning experiences that align with and engage your new and future employees.

“If you want to build training, you need to connect with the next generation. She does a really nice job of tying our data-driven world with our data-driven kids, and how we need to create a data-driven experience to engage them.”

– Dave Barone, Consultant at Josh Bersin Academy.

Understand how Dave embraced technology to build an experiential onboarding platform for 25,000 employees a year, by listening to our podcast episode.

8. Improving Performance Through Learning: A Practical Guide for Designing High Performance Learning Journeys, Steven Robert  O. Brinkerhoff, Anne M. Apking, Edward W. Boon

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Improving Performance Through Learning helps you navigate the revolution from face-to-face to digital learning, whilst keeping the mission of impactful workplace learning. 

“It’s been life-changing. It obviously has implications for corporate learning, but we are all humans, and learning is just a necessity in life. I’ve found applications personally, in terms of what I’m trying to achieve in my academic journey.”

– Travis Thompson, Learning and Development Operations Leader at Wells Fargo.

Discover how Travis has moved from transactional to meaningful learning, by listening to our podcast episode.

9. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, Steven Pressfield

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Dan highlighted this book as giving a great insight into what may be stopping you from trying new things. We all have goals we want to achieve. Whether it’s a business or personal objective, how can you avoid the roadblocks that stop you in your tracks? 

“That book just shined a light on resistance, in a way that was really enlightening to me and helped evolve my mindset about what is stopping me.”

– Dan Mitchell, Global Learning Leader at Marsh.

Find out why striving for perfection doesn’t lead to effective learning in our podcast with Dan Mitchell.

10. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey

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Stephen Covey’s work gives great insight into educating people about how to live life effectively and get closer to the ideal of being a ‘success’ in life.

“This made a huge impact in my life. We believe that it’s that important to manage your life before you can manage others.”

– Joe Tischbern, Director of Talent Development and Engagement at Smart & Final.

Find out Joe’s secret to high retention and career loyalty, and discover how Joe built a homegrown leadership training program from scratch – listen to the full podcast episode here.


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Written by Elucidat

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