OpenUp Leaders Recommend: The Best Business Books for 2023

11 Jan ‘23
3 min
Annemarie Andre
Tight deadlines, a packed schedule and big projects. In our hectic daily lives as busy professionals, we might sometimes forget to look at the bigger picture. That’s exactly why it’s important to refuel on motivation every now and then, while seeking out new ideas and approaches. From sci-fi to leadership and the concept of psychological security, with these book recommendations from the OpenUp leadership team, you’ll start the new year feeling motivated.


Book recommendations for an inspiring business year


1. “Our Iceberg is Melting”


Book recommendation by Nicolas Maréchal, Head of Content


How can you and your team overcome seemingly major obstacles and do all of that using clever tactics? The book “Our Iceberg is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Circumstances” by John Kotter is about a penguin colony that is in danger and has to quickly rethink things in order to survive. 


“I really liked reading this book because it’s original and easy to read. It looks at  the ways we deal with change – but told in an entertaining way using the story of a penguin,” says Nicolas Maréchal, Head of Content at OpenUp. “The book describes the obstacles and different personalities you may come across when introducing a necessary change at a company.”


2. “The Culture Map”


Book recommendation by Gijs Groeneveld, CPO


Germans  are used to hierarchical structures, but in Scandinavia everyone wants to have a say. Americans prefer to sugar-coat even negative feedback and the Dutch are (almost rudely!) direct. Working in an international organisation can be challenging. Comments aren’t always taken as they’re intended. That’s why Gijs Groeneveld, CPO at OpenUp, recommends the book “The Culture Map: Decoding How People Think, Lead, and Get Things Done Across Culture” by Erin Meyer. It helps you to understand and manage cultural differences, not just at work, but also in your private life. 


3. “The Fearless Organization”


Book recommendation by Rik Plender, COO


In order to remain competitive, many organisations invest in talent that is supposed to increase performance. However, it’s often more comfortable to acclimatise and just go along with things than it is to remain innovative and look for new solutions. The book The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth” by Amy C. Edmundson is about how leaders can create an open corporate culture that thrives on freedom of expression and promoting ideas. “Through reading this book, I learned more about how to create an environment of trust, give the support and be the leader that our teams need,” says Rik Plender, COO at OpenUp.

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4. “Hooked”


Book recommendation by Selina van Panhuys, Head of Product


Why do we pay so much attention to some products, whilst others bore us after the first few pages? One of Selina van Panhuys’s favourite business books  focuses on something that relates directly to her area of expertise. Selina is a Product Owner at OpenUp,  so she’s always looking at how to make products even better for users. The book “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products” by Nir Eyal is a must-read for her. As a product expert, I can really understand why customers pick our product over the competition. This book makes me respect our clients’ time even more and use it wisely,” says Selina.


5. “The Left Hand of Darkness”


Book recommendation by Marta Montesdeoca Romero, HR Manager


You don’t always need to look to business books for the inspiration you need – if you want to switch off after work, fiction is great. “I love science-fiction because it presents an alternative view of society,” says Marta Montesdeoca Romero, HR manager at OpenUp. One of her favourite books is “The Left Hand Of Darkness” by Ursula K. Le Guin. The book is about a human emissary to an alien world, where the inhabitants can choose and change their gender. “This book is mainly about challenging gender stereotypes, but it’s also more generally about acknowledging that everyone has different experiences; that we’re all so different and we see the world in such different ways,” explains Marta.


6. “No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention”


Book recommendation by Marcel Couturier, Sales Director DACH


Building a good team is something all leaders think about. It’s not just about testing an applicant’s expertise, but also making sure that they are a good “cultural fit”. In the book “No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings explains more about the secrets behind the success of Netflix: which company policies contributed to it and how companies can break rigid rules. 


“This book helps you to hold up a mirror and examine whether your own team is made up of strong players who are competent and equipped with the right tools, as opposed to those who avoid taking on responsibility,” says Marcel. With the right people in your team, you can accomplish a lot and even eradicate strict hierarchies.


7. “The Captain Class”


Book recommendation by Jesper Vieveen, Head of Marketing at OpenUp


Leadership is often compared to team sport. Obviously, you don’t have to get a ball into a goal at the office, but you do have to pull off many projects – and it’s better if they don’t run overtime. In the book “The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams”, Sam Walker examines the 16 most dominant teams in sporting history and the leaders at their helms. For Jesper Vieveen, the book is a “winning combination of sport, team dynamics and management theories”. “If you incorporate elements of this book into your daily work, you’ll completely change your view of leadership in the corporate world,” says Jesper.


Hopefully this list has given you and your leadership team some good inspiration. Did you know that OpenUp hosts masterclasses and offers advice from psychologists to help management teams stay focussed and successfully lead their teams? Find out more here.

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