Book recommendations for MBA students and graduates

Crave the growing excitement that comes with learning a new topic in class? How about uncovering a chapter from assigned reading that just clicks? Or, realizing that lessons recently analyzed in class provide direct insight and clarity during a work situation?

Reading is a great way for MBA students to gain multiple perspectives in leadership and for MBA graduates to keep ideas fresh. However, how do you know which books to invest your time in? Check out these book suggestions for MBA students and graduates directly from the experts.

Members of Bluffton University’s MBA faculty share their favorite books on leadership and why they top their list.

Marathana Prothro, assistant professor of communication

Conflict Without Casualties by Nate Regier is a must-read for anyone in management. It offers so many insights that are immediately applicable not only at work, but at home, too. It starts with an assumption that conflict can be a generative opportunity and then gives practical strategies for making that happen. This book has become a favorite among my students. I’ve never heard from someone who read it and didn’t walk away with some form of meaningful self-discovery.

Dr. Howard Keim, senior lecturer in business

In The Practice of Adaptive Leadership, Ron Heifetz distinguishes between technical and adaptive issues. Technical issues can be solved by experts using existing knowledge. Adaptive issues are novel or systemic issues that require sustained engagement by many stakeholders over time. Heifetz offers practical approaches to help leaders mobilize people to work through difficult problems. 

Dr. Jonathan Andreas, professor of economics; Howard Raid professor of business

Is human nature selfish, greedy and aggressive or is it generous, communal and cooperative? Some good books that address this question include Behave, by Robert Sapolsky (a biologist), Blueprint by Nicholas A. Christakis (a sociologist and physician), The Secret of our Success by Joseph Henrich (an anthropologist), or Give and Take by Adam Grant (an organizational psychologist). 
There is nothing more fundamental to management than our conception of human nature. These books provide interdisciplinary evidence to reshape the crude models of human nature often presented in biology, economics and some management texts. Knowing a fuller picture of human nature can help you become a more persuasive leader by recognizing the alternatives to hierarchical power. I can also help you lead a more meaningful life by recognizing that we all have an intrinsic desire to belong to our communities and make contributions to them.   

Brienne Sprunger, assistant professor of marketing; director of MBA programs

Do you consciously (or maybe subconsciously) choose to eat last when gathered with colleagues or even with your own family? Author Simon Sinek points out the “why” behind this concept in his book Leaders Eat Last. The book shares stories from a diverse group of leaders and how each make their organization thrive through small acts. Throughout the stories, readers are also reminded of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in a modern context.

Has your business working model changed to include remote positions? Remote Not Distant by Gustavo Razzetti and Leading from Anywhere by David Burkus are new releases that address this rising trend. Incorporating remote positions, while maintaining company culture, can be challenging. These authors provide a better understanding of the terms and policies used by companies today. They also show how leaders can make the best decision to achieve their teams’ goals while also hiring, and retaining, top employees.

Small Acts of Leadership by G. Shawn Hunter is a quick read that allows the reader to be re-inspired in their leadership role. Whether you read this book from front to back, or jump to specific concepts, you will be reminded of ways to look at situations differently and how to be the best leader for your organization.

At Bluffton University…

At Bluffton University, working adults can complete their degree in accounting, business management or social work; or earn an MBA (Master of Business Administration), MAOM (Master of Arts in Organizational Management) or MAEd (Master of Arts in Education).

Bluffton’s graduate programs were recently recognized by “Ohio Business” magazine’s Best in Ohio Business Awards. Learn more about the programs from one of our MBA graduates!

Written by Tricia Bell, content manager