Dave Ulrich is the grandfather of the HR industry. His books are the gold standard of human resources excellence. But if I were a student pursuing a degree in business and people management, several other authors have more relevant and compelling ideas.
I wouldn’t read Dave Ulrich.
Who Else Is There?
I would start with Dan Pink and “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.” When he wrote “Drive” back in 2011, Pink was one of many prominent authors to connect human resources to psychology and behavioral economics. He is one of the best writers to tackle the subject of motivation, money and work.
Then I would read anything written by Sheryl Sandberg. My favorite is “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy.” It’s an underrated book that goes one step beyond “Lean In” and addresses topics like empathy, heartache, loss, privilege and resilience at work. You’ll be a better cultural steward within your organization for having finished this book.
Finally, I recommend a healthy dose of Simon Sinek. My favorite is “Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t.” Today’s talent-driven economy requires HR leaders to be advisors, and team cohesion is a cornerstone of healthy organizations.
What’s Wrong With Looking Backwards?
There’s nothing wrong with cracking open a Dave Ulrich book. He offers HR models rooted in academic research from the late-20th and early 21st century; however, the world of work is changing quickly and the concept of “HR” is changing with it. While his approach to people and talent resonated in the early stages of my career, there are now more writers and thinkers in HR. And they’re better.
I’ve stopped reading Dave Ulrich books, but I haven’t stopped reading HR books. Neither should you. If you’re looking to improve your business acumen or increase your influence in human resources — and you want a fresh take on today’s most pressing talent-related issues — look to the three authors listed above and give their books a try.
You can’t go wrong with Dan Pink, Sheryl Sandberg or Simon Sinek. That’s the required reading for HR professionals in 2018.
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