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So how do you fast-track your career?
At some point in your career, your expertise (“hard skills”) won’t be enough to progress. Instead, the focus shifts to the “soft skills”: communication, leadership, negotiation, etc…
These, you learn through time and experience.
But what if there was a way to distil the experience, knowledge and wisdom of others who’ve walked the path before you?
This is how I see books. A “best of” the brightest minds. The essence of wisdom. A repository of knowledge carefully crafted by successful people with a proven track record.
In this post, I share 5 great books to help fast-track your career. I have deliberately chosen these books for their potential to boost your career progression (they made a big difference to mine).
Gravitas: Communicate with Confidence, Influence and Authority (by Caroline Goyder)
Fast-Track: This book has all the tools you need to become a confident public speaker.
Have you ever wondered how some people can grab everyone’s attention when they enter a room? How they command silence the moment they start talking?
I came across Carolyne Goyder a few years ago, watching her TEDx Talk on speaking with confidence. She shared a few lessons on “finding your voice” which really resonated with me (and I’m still using to this day!).
In her book, Caroline Goyder goes back to the essence of Gravitas, defining it as:
Gravitas = Knowledge + Passion + Purpose – Anxiety
The book tackles each element of the equation independently and with each other.
Be ready to work on your mindset, how to spark the fire within and connect with your purpose. And expect a wealth of practical tips on how to prepare for an important presentation, from how to use body language and pauses, to how to flex your tone and style, constantly adapting to the situation.
I loved how accessible the book was, whilst being packed full of actionable advice and ancient wisdom to make you think about what gravitas means to you.
I have actually listened to this book on Audible. The narration by Caroline herself was incredible. You can “hear” first hand the application of her advice, and really connect with the author.
Stepping Up: How to Accelerate Your Leadership Potential (by Sarah Wood & Niamh O’Keeffe)
Fast-Track: This book will give you practical and actionable tips to stepping up at work and becoming a great leader.
I’ve only read Stepping Up recently, despite having a few years of management experience. The book is an easy read packed full of practical advice. Just under 200 pages, not a word is wasted as Sarah Wood delivers her 5 V’s to becoming a better leader: Vision, Values, Velocity, Votes and Victories.
What I particularly like about this book is that, despite being actionable, the content makes you think and reflect on who you want to be as a leader.
There are no perfect templates, no simple “how-to” guides. But leadership is not just an art, it is also a science. Like most things you learn on your journey to career maximisation, there are methods and practices out there to help you reach your leadership potential faster. This book is one of them and will undoubtedly fast-track your career.
Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving in (by Roger Fisher)
Fast-Track: This book will give you the keys to becoming a better negotiator, whether closing a deal, asking for a rise or simply selling your point in a meeting.
When it comes to personal development books, very few stand the test of time. You’ve probably heard of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, published in 1936 and still a top seller.
“Getting to Yes” is part of this very exclusive club.
Originally published in 1981, the book remains an excellent introduction to the art of negotiation.
The core message is simple: separate the people from the problem, and by doing so, focus on interests rather than position. But the framework behind this is extremely valuable and easy to apply in practice.
Don’t get me wrong, the book is just a starting point and becoming an expert negotiator relies on deliberate practice. But like all things, solid foundations are crucial to developing these skills and fast-track your career.
GRIT: Why Passion and Resilience are the Secrets to Success (by Angela Duckworth)
Fast-Track: This book will show you how to achieve more at work and in life by focusing on purpose, passion and perseverance.
My wife offered me the book “GRIT” last Christmas. I had never heard of the book nor of its author, Angela Duckworth. Fast forward a few months and not only have I adopted the book’s big ideas, but it has a significant impact on how I manage my team.
The book felt like a natural follow-up to “Mindset” by Carol S. Dweck and the case for adopting a growth mindset.
Angela Duckworth argues that achievement has a lot more to do with effort than talent and that passion and resilience will take you across the finish line (if there ever is one!).
What hit home for me was the chapter on Parenting for GRIT, which also apply to “managing a team” for GRIT. Being both demanding and supporting early on creates the right culture and leads to a virtuous cycle of achievements.
The book is also full of practical advice on finding your purpose, deliberate practice and developing a growth mindset, to name a few…
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (by David Allen)
Fast-Track: This book will help you get more done, free up time, and focus on productivity rather than busyness!
The GTD method is an absolute classic in the field of productivity. But to me, it has allowed me to optimise the time I spend working: maximise value, eliminate wasted time and of course, achieve a better work-life balance!
In his book, David Allen presents a simple yet efficient model to deal with the constant influx of information (e.g. emails, calls, conversations etc…).
I’ve used the principles in this book in both my work and personal life for years. It requires discipline to start with but quickly becomes second nature.
One example is how I deal with my inbox at work: incoming emails go through the GTD treatment consistently. And guess what, on a Friday evening, my inbox is virtually cleared, ready to deal with the following week!
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I hope you give some of these books a try. They have all impacted my career progression to some extent.
Have you read some of them? What do you think? What are your top suggestions to fast-track your career?
Please share in the comments, I’d love to know!