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10 Learning and Development Books for 21st Century Leaders & Organizations


We recently asked our WDHB team about their favorite must-read Learning & Development books in order to share these bold, thought-provoking publications with you. We hope these 10 L&D publications ignite your imagination and inspire opportunities to give your company a competitive edge.

Of course, if you’re looking for even more insights into the world of L&D, check out the research and advancements our team at WDHB Lab dove into, including the role L&D can play when prioritizing sustainability within your organization. We hope these reports will open your mind to innovative development strategies, just like the books listed below.

Embracing Continuous Learning and Development

Learning and development are vital in all areas of life, but they are especially key in the workplace. Many L&D books can offer a practical guide on implementing new strategies and practices that will have a positive impact on both you individually as well as your team. 

There’s a book for you no matter where you are in your career journey, and the best books can set us on the path to becoming lifelong learners. 

The Benefits: How Learning and Development Books Unlock Potential

In an ever-changing global landscape, Learning and Development books serve as vital resources. These tools empower individuals with contemporary insights, amplify skill sets, and for organizations, provide a pathway to invigorate their workforce, fostering a culture of continuous growth and commitment. Lets dive into some of their benefits in more detail. 

Remain Relevant

Learning and development books are a perfect way of staying up to date with industry trends, best practices and new styles of working, whilst rooting yourself in the L&D discipline. These publications are multi-disciplinary, meaning you can access a diverse array of teachings and practices to take with you and implement in the workplace.

Enhance Your Skills

Learning and development books support steady personal and professional development by teaching new skills and providing motivation to seek new opportunities and move up the career ladder. Through enacting the teachings found in learning and development books, you can enhance your performance in the workplace and increase your value to employers. 

Take these learning experiences with you throughout your career and reap the rewards of continuous learning.

Employee Engagement 

Research shows workplaces that take employee development seriously have higher levels of employee retention than those which do not. Empowering your team results in better morale and therefore, better business results. Importantly, encouraging employees to read learning and development books fosters a learning culture in the workplace.

Learning and development books can also support the work of your human resources team, for example they can help streamline the process of onboarding new employees, through teaching them new processes and concepts. Many learning and development books focus on instructional design for training employees so you can ensure your workplace has effective learning practices and that your employees are getting the most of their careers. 

Encouraging Your Team to Explore and Invest in Their Continuous Learning Journey

There are simple initiatives to encourage learning culture in the workplace such as: leading by example with your own book choices and recommending them to colleagues; setting up a library or book swap program in the office; or, starting a work book club where employees can share ideas and engage in constructive dialogue.

These can be incentivized to further encourage team members who may not be ready to take the initiative and read books yet. This could be rewarding employees who write a review of a book for example vouchers, organizing professional training programs for employees who take part in a book swap, or simply recognizing and praising staff who take part in the workplace reading initiatives. Not only will the rewarded employees feel validated, but these practices encourage others within the team to to take part in workplace learning.

Learning and Development Books You Need to Read


“Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” by James Clear

More than just a self-help book, Atomic Habits provides simple, actionable steps that snowball into life changing behaviors. As a business leader, these satisfying quick wins make healthy habits stick as you and your team improve a little each day.

“Developing Intercultural Awareness: A Cross-Cultural Training Handbook” by L. Robert Kohls

Multicultural training is central to developing a rich company culture. Packed with plentiful case studies and dynamic games, this guide is the perfect resource for anyone wishing to train others and to improve their own cultural competency.


“Design for How People Learn” by Julie Dirksen

This learning and development  book is well-known for being one of the most fun and engaging resources for learning design. Useful for both beginners and seasoned veterans in the L&D space, this witty and informative book will show you how to enrapture your audience with lively storytelling and practical lived experience.

“Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek

Why are some teams ready to put their lives on the line for each other, while others fall into disorder and deep mistrust? In this riveting read, Simon Sinek looks to the great leaders who constantly sacrifice their own desires for the benefit of the larger group. With a newly expanded chapter on leading millennials, learn how to create a “Circle of Safety” that can withstand the greatest of challenges in the workplace.


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“Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries” by Safi Bahcall

Combining physics and business strategy, this groundbreaking book explains why company culture can rapidly shift from encouraging bold ideas to shutting them down, and vice versa. Drawing lessons from phase transitions (such as water turning to ice and birds flocking), this exciting read proves how businesses can create a wave of change rather than react to crises.

“Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future” by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson

In a digital world where constant change is becoming the status quo, this book warmly navigates you through the risks and rewards of shaping a brighter future through technology. This resource is perfect for world leaders who wish to understand technological trends- all through a powerfully humanitarian lens.


“Peak, Secrets from the New Science of Expertise” by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool

With an insightful focus on deliberate practice and coaching, this book proves that almost nothing is out of reach if we commit to a process and seek outside guidance. No matter what skills you wish to master, this guide offers surprising approaches to learning and development that help us get a little better each day as people and leaders.  This book is part of the presentation John Crawley gives during our Gold Medal Leadership Experience in California.

“The Platform Delusion: Who Wins and Who Loses in the Age of Tech Titans” by Jonathan A. Knee

The learning and development book by Jonathan A. Knee smashes the misconception of tech giants being unstoppable in the digital age. By exploring the secrets behind these companies’ success, readers will understand how to drive resilience, expand opportunity, and how to shrewdly compete in the platform economy.

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“Tribe of Mentors” by Tim Ferris

An eye-opening collection of interviews from some of the greatest minds of today, “Tribe of Mentors’ is the perfect book for every stage of life. From adopting the habits of successful people to discovering the secrets of a fulfilling life, the concrete advice of these thought-leaders will inspire you to become the master of your own unique journey.

“Surrounded by Idiots: The Four Types of Human Behavior and How to Effectively Communicate with Each in Business (and in Life)” By Thomas Erikson

Many people truly believe they are surrounded by idiots, but the reality is often rooted in differing communication styles. By drawing from the popular DISA profiles personality test, this illuminating resource provides practical strategies to avoid painful misunderstandings and become more understanding of yourself and others. 


Exploring How Continuous Innovation Drives Professional Success

We all can feel stuck progressing – or even beginning – our professional development journey, but learning and development books are the ideal way to gain insight into the fundamentals of a successful career. They are the most cost-effective way to find your management or leadership style, find inspiration to undertake effective training that suits you, and can teach you how to enact the habits needed to succeed in your career. 

Reading is a mindful way to self-reflect and constructively critique your actions, a crucial skill for professional growth. As a continuous learner, you are always keeping up on the curve on what makes a great leader. You can become a better facilitator for your employees’ development, and in turn improve and adopt new skills to spur on your own career development. 

The Impact of Learning and Development Books on Personal and Professional Growth

By providing insight into self-improvement techniques, industry trends and best practice, and leadership know-how, learning and development books can help develop the new skills needed to thrive in your career. 

Real life stories of success and challenges and real world examples from L&D professionals on how to enact change can motivate readers, as well as highlight actionable techniques for them to gain a competitive edge in their industry. 

Reading such resources can also open your eyes to how people learn in different ways so that you can specialize and invest in diverse talent development.

Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know on LinkedIn. Ready to thrive this year and beyond? We’d love to chat about our expanded portfolio from virtual, hybrid and on-location programs to L&D consulting. Our solutions are fully customizable and directly address the challenges faced by your organization. Contact us today to learn more.


Sunil Narang

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