Here is our list of the best team building books.
Team building books are guides that outline essential steps of building strong and productive teams. Accomplished industry leaders write these books to help employees and managers form successful teams.
Specifically, this list includes:
- books on team building
- team building books for employees
- team building books for managers
- books on building a team
- books on team dynamics
So, here is your reading list!
List of team building books
From conversations to creativity to trust, these books cover all the most important team building topics.
1. The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork: Embrace Them and Empower Your Team by John C. Maxwell
Team building demands much more than gathering a group and assigning a project. Good team management requires important skills, preparation, and careful consideration.
John C. Maxwell breaks down all the basics of forming great teams in one of the most thorough books about team building, The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork. The author describes why teamwork is critical and what managers can do to get the most out of teams, while sharing insights like “the goal is more important than the role,” and “all players have a place where they add the most value.”
“For the person trying to do everything alone, the game really is over. If you want to do something big, you must link up with others. One is too small a number to achieve greatness. That’s the Law of Significance.”
Learn more about The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork on Amazon
2. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni
Even in the best situations, leading a team is a challenge. In times of trouble, skillful and empathetic leaders steer teams toward success.
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team outlines obstacles modern teams face. The book tackles topics such as:
- Absence of trust
- Fear of conflict
- Lack of commitment
- Avoidance of accountability
- Inattention to results
By exploring the roots of these problems and sharing specific examples, the book suggests strategies and solutions to help leaders avoid these common pitfalls.
“If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.”
Learn more about The Five Dysfunctions of a Team on Amazon
3. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, et al.
Communication is key for teams, remote teams especially. Sometimes, we need to initiate difficult conversations with coworkers. Crucial Conversations covers how to keep calm and communicate clearly in tense situations.
Crucial Conversations teaches skills like controlling emotions, persuading instead of bullying, and creating safe spaces for employees to be honest. Unlike other team building books which focus on team formation, Crucial Conversations minimizes workplace conflict by teaching teammates to avoid unnecessary confrontation and ease unavoidable upset.
“This is the first principle of dialogue—Start with Heart. That is, your own heart. If you can’t get yourself right, you’ll have a hard time getting dialogue right.”
Learn more about Crucial Conversations on Amazon
4. Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell
Modern teams are not static. As new projects arise, teams expand and welcome new collaborators. In large and remote organizations employees are often challenged to cooperate with unfamiliar coworkers.
Malcolm Gladwell’s Talking with Strangers analyzes interactions between strangers and pinpoints how miscommunications and mishaps occur. By taking a closer look at how we approach strangers, we can reimagine our conversations to make sure we form allies instead of enemies.
“That’s the consequence of not defaulting to truth. If you don’t begin in a state of trust, you can’t have meaningful social encounters.”
Learn more about Talking with Strangers on Amazon
5. Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
Teams that trust work as a unit. Teams that do not trust function as individuals. Trusting teams are happier, more motivated, and more successful.
In Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek emphasizes the importance of trust and stresses that teams must trust leaders. Leaders build trust among teams by putting employees first and sacrificing comfort during crises. As one of the more leader-centric books on collaboration, Leaders Eat Last shows how leaders become respected members of teams instead of mere order-givers.
Notable Quote: “Leaps of greatness require the combined problem-solving ability of people who trust each other.”
Learn more about Leaders Eat Last on Amazon
6. The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy by Jon Gordon
Attitude is contagious. Good or bad energy can quickly spread between team members, so leaders must work to develop positive team environments.
The Energy Bus is one of the more useful books on building team culture because the book shows how to stay positive and encourage others to do the same. While we cannot control external events, we can control our own outlooks. Optimistic viewpoints lead to friendlier workplaces and achieve better results. Author Ken Blanchard teaches leaders how to foster cool heads and sunny dispositions among teams by modeling the behavior.
“To run a successful organization,” I say, “you must learn to manage people’s energy, including your own.”
Learn more about The Energy Bus on Amazon
7. Conscious Coaching: The Art and Science of Building Buy-In by Brett Bartholomew
Motivation takes skill. Anyone can bark orders, but only the wisest leaders truly inspire. By understanding team members and adopting an approach that aligns with team members’ goals, leaders achieve greatness.
In Conscious Coaching, Brett Bartholomew shares psychological tricks to mentally train teams. Many team building books are sports-based, this one included. Conscious Coaching focuses on athletes, but contains lessons that can easily be applied to the workplace.
“The starting point for all interaction must come from an understanding of what the other person cares about most.”
Learn more about Conscious Coaching on Amazon
8. Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by Stanley McChrystal, Tantum Collins, et al.
Sometimes, the “way it has always been done” no longer works. Effective management evolves with the times. Adaptable leaders build flexible teams. Companies thrive when dynamic teams embrace change.
Retired Army General Stanley McChrystal joined forces with fellow authors to pen Team of Teams. Drawing on lessons from the service, he wrote a guide to forming bonds and creating efficient teams that can perform well even under duress.
“We nurtured holistic awareness and tried to give everyone a stake in the fight. When we stopped holding them back—when we gave them the order simply to place their ship alongside that of the enemy—they thrived.”
Learn more about Team of Teams on Amazon
9. The Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything by Stephen M.R. Covey
Every relationship starts and ends with trust. If team members do not trust each other, teams will be less joyful, more stressed, and will waste more time second-guessing and double-checking each other’s work.
Stephen Covey, author of the legendary The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, describes why trust is so critical and how you can earn it in The Speed of Trust. The author has written several team bonding books that teach how to let your guard down and have more confidence in your coworkers.
“In a high-trust relationship, you can say the wrong thing, and people will still get your meaning. In a low-trust relationship, you can be very measured, even precise, and they’ll still misinterpret you.”
Learn more about The Speed of Trust on Amazon
10. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace
If leaders do not allow team members opportunities to innovate, managers risk frustrating employees. Leaders who fail to leave room for creativity stifle team members’ imaginations and limit what teams can achieve.
Author Ed Catmull is one of the founders of Pixar Animation Studios. In Creativity Inc, he educates readers on tips and techniques to create and influence creative teams.
Some of his insights include: “Everybody should be able to talk to anybody,” and “It’s not the manager’s job to prevent risks. It’s the manager’s job to make it safe for others to take them.”
“Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they will screw it up. But give a mediocre idea to a great team, and they will either fix it or come up with something better.”
Learn more about Creativity Inc on Amazon
11. The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle
Team building and company culture have a symbiotic relationship. While team building solidifies and promotes company culture, a healthy company culture also helps leaders build strong and happy teams. In The Culture Code, Daniel Coyle draws on examples of successful troupes to point out the qualities of growth-friendly environments. By breaking the process down into three main tenets (build safety, share vulnerability, and establish purpose,) Coyle outlines a plan to establish a thriving culture in any organization.
“Vulnerability doesn’t come after trust—it precedes it. Leaping into the unknown, when done alongside others, causes the solid ground of trust to materialize beneath our feet.”
Learn more about The Culture Code on Amazon
Team leaders can improve management skills by reading advice from accomplished professionals. All of the books about team building on this list are also available as audio-books, so you can benefit from the knowledge during commutes and airport layovers too.
FAQ: Team building books
Here are answers to some of the most common questions we get about team building books for employees and managers.
What are team building books?
Team building books are guides that break down the often overwhelming process of team building into basic concepts and strategies. Authors use personal successes and failures to better educate readers.
What are some good books about team building?
The best books about team building identify common team problems and suggest ways to avoid or fix these pitfalls. Some good books about team building include The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork: Embrace Them and Empower Your Team by John C. Maxwell, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni, and Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek.
Why should you read books about team building?
You should read books about team building because these works identify all the elements of great teams and offer advice on how to form a team that will work effectively with your management style.
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