I cannot begin to express how important reading outside literature is for you as a leader. If you visit my Amazon Book Store, you’ll see that in The Prosperous Leader I mention a multitude of books; they’re about many different topics from varying decades and encompass all of the categories Kelsey Meyer from entrepreneur.com suggests we leaders should focus on in her article Want to Be a Good Manager? Pick up a Book.
Niche and trade publications & Articles written by thought leaders. You’ve got to understand where your company is going to get there. In Chapter 15, I discuss The Business Coach, who can help you get where you need to be in business. “The world of business is getting more competitive with each passing day, and it’s difficult to keep up. Constant changes and innovations in sales, marketing, and management strategies make it important to have a business coach. It’s not just a luxury anymore. You may be able to survive in business these days without the help of a coach, but it’s almost impossible to thrive.”
Competitors’ newsletters. Understand what your competitors are offering so you can go above and beyond your customers’ expectations. Chapter 18 discusses The Secret to Selling Success: Ask and Listen. This can be applied to knowing your competitors as well. An excerpt from this chapter explains further: When they did the Sandler training, they realized they were focused on explaining to all their callers that their learning system had great features and benefits—better than all the systems out there. The problem was that those callers heard the same basic spiel from all the other companies selling similar systems. So they needed a way to differentiate themselves.
Customer reviews and feedback. Learning what your customers love and hate about your company can help everyone. Chapter 18 in The Prosperous Leader discusses just this. If you ask and listen, you’ll learn a lot. Describing the attributes of a salesperson, I explain, is "the most important and the most overlooked is the ability to ask good questions and listen. As a business owner or a manager, you might be need to talk to customers or train your people in sales, so understanding this principle…will greatly enhance your and your team’s success”.
Business books. Know what goals you have for your business and read how others have achieved them.
Psychology books. Understanding your team is one of the most important keys to having a successful business. This is the reason I devote 5 entire chapters (16-20) to Maximizing Your Relationship with Others. People are complex; learning how to perfect relationships with them even more so!
In summary: if you want to be a good manager, pick up [several] books!