For The Year 2021, Here Are Ten Must-Read Business Books.



This list of book recommendations for CEOs in navigating a post-COVID-19 world, creating more inclusive environments, and reimagining leadership.

This is a new list of business leaders’ must-read books. This year’s proposals, not unexpectedly, highlight the various problems that will face leaders and organizations in 2020, from how to develop inclusive leaders and high-performing cultures to what a post-pandemic world will look like.

However, we have a couple of unexpected titles — on meritocracy and fungi — that provide a fresh but compelling perspective on how we live, think, and lead.

Good luck with your reading.

Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake

Fungus, to be precise. Did you know that these under-appreciated organisms have the ability to change people’s minds, heal bodies, and restore the environment? This book takes readers on a remarkable journey of discovery, demonstrating how intertwined our lives are with fungi — from yeast to psychedelics to those that connect in a complex subterranean social network known as the “wood wide web” — and why fungi are critical to understanding our planet and the ways we think, feel, and behave.

Jay Heiser, Vice President Analyst at Gartner, recommends it. The book is available on Amazon 


Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World by Fareed Zakaria

Although thinking beyond our current COVID-19 reality is tough, this book encourages you to do so. “The world that is emerging as a result of the epidemic, and — more crucially — our responses to it,” says the author. This current book, written as a series of ten lessons, explores the political, technological, and economic consequences of a post-pandemic society, from government quality to the rise of digital life.

Top Books All Midsize Enterprise CIOs Should View in 2021, as mentioned in the Gartner client research [Gartner clients can read the full report here]. Amazon has it available for purchase.


The 5 Disciplines of Inclusive Leaders: Unleashing the Power of All of Us by Andrés T. Tapia and Alina Polonskaia

This newly released handbook to inclusive leadership comes at a time when businesses are looking to establish more DEI cultures. According to the authors, firms must have inclusive leadership at all levels in order to develop such cultures. Based on a database of 3 million leadership assessments, they define the five important attributes, or disciplines, of inclusive leaders. They then show readers how to apply the disciplines to create structurally and behaviorally inclusive organizations.

Chris Steadley, Gartner’s Managing Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, recommends it. Amazon has it available for purchase.


The Accidental President and the Four Months That Changed The World by A.J. Baime

Get a front-row seat as Harry S. Truman navigates his first 120 days as President of the United States, a post he was thrust into following the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Truman faced a slew of high-stakes difficulties in a short period of time, ranging from the development of the atomic bomb to the emergence of the Cold War. Baime draws on his personal experiences to evaluate high-level leadership and to examine some of history’s most pivotal moments and decisions.

Jorge Lopez, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner, recommends it. Amazon has it available for purchase.


The Blueprint: 6 Practical Steps to Lift Your Leadership to New Heights by Douglas Conant

This book, which is part manifesto and half practical handbook, focuses on six ideas that Conant utilized to alter his professional life after being fired without cause in 1984: Reach for the stars, dig deep, lay the foundation, plan, construct, and strengthen. Since then, he has served as the CEO of Campbell Soup Company and the president of Nabisco Foods. He helps leaders improve their leadership skills, manage challenging situations, and effect substantial change in their organizations through a variety of exercises.

Top Books All Midsize Enterprise CIOs Should View in 2021, as mentioned in the Gartner client research. Amazon has it available for purchase.


The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle


This book’s concept is that culture is something you do, not something you are. Many leaders, however, have no idea where “excellent culture” comes from or how to create and maintain it. This book, which includes a special-ops military unit, a professional basketball team, and a comedy troupe, provides concrete answers and recommendations by showing what makes top-performing cultures so effective. Building safety, sharing vulnerability, and developing purpose, according to Coyle, are the three crucial abilities for success.

Gene Alvarez, Distinguished Vice President Analyst at Gartner, recommends it. Amazon has it available for purchase.


The River of Consciousness by Oliver Sacks

Creativity and evolution. Memory, consciousness, and experience are all intertwined. In this collection of ten articles, renowned author and neurology professor Dr. Oliver Sacks examines these and other topics. Sacks’ ability to establish unexpected connections encourage readers to stop and think deeply about the connections between a wide range of issues — from the mental lives of plants and invertebrates to the malleability of human speed perception — is the book’s strength. This is a great book for leaders who wish to clear their heads.

Chris Howard, Gartner’s Distinguished VP Analyst and Chief of Research, recommends it. Amazon has it available for purchase.


The Technology Trap: Capital, Labor, and Power in the Age of Automation by Carl Benedikt Frey

For those interested in the history of technology, this is a must-read. This book examines technical advancement over time and its impact on the distribution of economic and political power, from the Industrial Revolution to the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI). Frey, on the other hand, isn’t merely retelling history. He’s using historical examples to show how and why our attitudes toward and interactions with technology (opposition, adoption) dictate how technology affects our society. Leaders should be aware of the growing usage of AI, blockchain, and emerging technology.

Rajesh Kandaswamy, Gartner Vice President Analyst, recommends it. Amazon has it available for purchase.


The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good? By

Michael Sandel

Is it possible for anyone to “make it if they try”? Is your success due to your own efforts? Both, according to Harvard philosophy professor Sandel, are illusions that have resulted in rising inequality, are at the root of today’s societal problems, and are corroding the common good. Instead, he proposes a new way of thinking about success, one that includes reconsidering the role of college and the value of employment. This book, which will be released in August 2020, looks at meritocracy in the context of the pandemic and is ideal for executives who want to learn more about the role of diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace.

Frank Buytendijk, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner, recommends it. Amazon has it available for purchase.


Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson

You’re mistaken if you believe the best ideas come from “eureka” moments. Johnson, the author, claims that this is the case. He believes that innovative ideas are made up of previous concepts that have been knitted together to create something new. The seven patterns of actual innovation will be revealed to readers, as well as an understanding of how some of the most intriguing corporate breakthroughs (without the consultant talk) came to be. According to Johnson, the trick to generating unique ideas is to “build information networks that allow hunches to remain, spread, and recombine.”

Chris Howard, Gartner’s Distinguished VP Analyst and Chief of Research, recommends it. Amazon has it available for purchase.



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