The Ultimate Business Strategy Library

Business Strategy Library

The Books That Will Help You Grow Your Business

Every successful business leader recognises the power of reading to nurture the mind and provide fresh perspectives on the issues facing a growing business.

However, it’s difficult to find the time to read all the business books and articles out there and even more difficult to work out which ones will make a big difference to your business.

Scalable Sustainable Business Growth Director, Leigh Paulden, makes it his business to read everything he can get his hand on. He has studied and knows the difference between those books that are practical and proven, and those that are just opinion.

Leigh’s Library

Leigh has created a Business Library of ‘must read’ strategic books to help you grow and succeed. He has read every one, highlights the ‘problem area’ each addresses, and identifies who will get maximum benefit from reading the book.

While some books are powerful, practical, and have a positive impact on you, there are a few that will change the way you do business – forever! Leigh has picked his top business strategy books for you to read.

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The Top Business Strategy Books You Should Read

Good to Great Book Cover

Good To Great

Author: Jim Collins

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t

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The Inside Advantage

Author: Robert H. Bloom

The Inside Advantage: The Strategy That Unlocks the Hidden Growth in Your Business

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The Great Game of Business: The Only Sensible Way to Run a Company

The Great Game of Business

Author: Jack Stack and Bo Burlingham

The Great Game of Business: The Only Sensible Way to Run a Company

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Get in the Game: How To Create Rapid Financial Results And Lasting Cultural Change

Get in the Game

Author: Rich Armstrong and Steve Baker

Get in the Game: How To Create Rapid Financial Results And Lasting Cultural Change

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what great brands do book cover

What Great Brands Do

Author: Denise Lee Yohn

What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles That Separate the Best from the Rest

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Made to Thrive

Made to Thrive

Author: Brad Giles

The Five Roles to Evolve Beyond your Leadership Comfort Zone

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outthink the competition book cover

Outthink The Competition

Author: Kaihan Krippendorff

Outthink The Competition: How a New Generation of Strategists Sees Options Others Ignore

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scaling up book cover

Mastering the Rockefeller Habits 2.0: Scaling Up

Author: Verne Harnish

How a few companies make it…and why the rest don’t

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Book Reviews

This library includes material from well-known authors, business consultants and CEO’s with proven knowledge and experience in what it takes to lead a company to commercial success and longevity.

Good to Great Book Cover

Good to Great

By Jim Collins

Who should read this business strategy book: EVERY business owner

“Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.” Jim Collins

Leigh Paulden’s comments:

If there is one strategy book you MUST read – this is it…then follow that with Great by Choice.

This book addresses a single question: can a good company become a great company, and if so, how? Step by step, this will take you through the elements of strategy, people and execution needed to move your business forward.

The well-known and successful hedgehog concept is introduced – by its very nature, a hedgehog is a dull creature…simple, lumbering. A fox, by contrast, is cunning, clever, and poking its nose everywhere.

Great companies are like hedgehogs, Collins found: they discover what they can do best, and they stick to it. To unlock your inner hedgehog, you need to answer three critical questions: What can I do best? What makes money? What ignites my passion? Then find the common ground to all three answers, and embrace it – that’s the hedgehog. The strategy is so simple that it verges on feeling ridiculously over-simplified…but it works.

Get this book, read it, understand it and success will be yours. Based on years of research, it’s a fascinating read packed full of punch.

Great by Choice

By Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen

Who should read this business strategy book: EVERY business owner…after they have read Good to Great

“When you marry operating excellence with innovation, you multiply the value of your creativity.” Jim Collins

Leigh Paulden’s comments:

We cannot predict the future. But we can create it and this book will help you do so.

Outside forces shape business – uncertainty, chaos, falling world markets, unstable economies – yet some companies and leaders navigate this type of world exceptionally well. In the words of Fortune, “they don’t merely react; they create. They don’t merely survive; they prevail. They don’t merely succeed; they thrive. They build great enterprises that can endure. We do not believe that chaos, uncertainty, and instability are good; companies, leaders, organizations, and societies do not thrive on chaos. But they can thrive in chaos.”

Like its predecessor – this book is full of case studies and is easy to follow. If you are serious about your business, then read and understand this book.

Made to Thrive | 7 Attributes: Leadership

Made to Thrive: The Five Roles to Evolve Beyond your Leadership Comfort Zone

By: Brad Giles

The book is focused on: What is the difference between a good CEO and a great CEO?

Who should read this book: All CEO’s and General Managers, especially emerging mid-market leaders.

“In order to make your effort count for the most, it’s important to understand that the role of a leader is really about not doing other people’s job, and doing your own.” Brad Giles

Leigh Paulden’s comments:

I think this is a fantastic book for emerging mid-market General Manager and Chief Executives. Giles outlines what steps to take in order to succeed, and what procedures should be in place within the business in order for success to be possible. He provides simple and effective tools throughout the book on how to identify opportunities for improvement; and where weaknesses may be found and mitigated with a company structure.

Giles also explains the role of the CEO once more managers are added to the leadership team and what changes they may need to make to their own role as a result.

Overall, I think this book to be a good resource for any CEO and General Manager looking to improve their and their company’s performance.

Outthink the Competition

Out Think The Competition: How a New Generation of Strategists Sees Options Others Ignore

By Kaihan Krippendorff

Who should read this business strategy book: Any business, of any size that wants to stand out in its industry

“Most strategic planning processes are not designed to create strategy. They are designed to create consistency and predictability.” Kaihan Krippendorff

Leigh Paulden’s comments:

If you want to out-manoeuvre  your competition then this is the go-to book. It’s highly strategic and will help you establish your multiple points of difference. This book looks at companies and the dynamics of business leaders who see opportunities where others don’t and how they have disrupted the market to their own advantage.

Out Think The Competition provides a framework on how to think. You will learn the strategic power of being able to see, intelligently select, and pursue new options that your competition overlooks.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

By Patrick Lencioni

Who should read this book: Middle and senior management teams

“It’s as simple as this. When people don’t unload their opinions and feel like they’ve been listened to, they won’t really get on board.” Patrick Lencioni

Leigh Paulden’s comments:

A dysfunctional team is one where people bring emotion to the table or to decision making. This emotion needs to be turned to betterment. When entire teams understand this, innovation and perspective naturally follow when decisions need to be made. The causes of dysfunction are both identifiable and curable and I recommend this book as one to pass around the team.

As Patrick says, “if we don’t trust one another, then we aren’t going to engage in open, constructive, ideological conflict.”

The book is presented as a fable and is very easy to read.

Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter

By Liz Wiseman

Who should read this book: Any employer with 30 plus staff

“Leaders rooted in the logic of multiplication believe:

  1. Most people in organizations are underutilized.
  2. All capability can be leveraged with the right kind of leadership.
  3. Therefore, intelligence and capability can be multiplied without requiring a bigger investment.”

Liz Wiseman

Leigh Paulden’s comments:

Are you a multiplier or a diminisher? What about the people that work for you? Businesses invariably has diminishers in the team, often they are not even aware they are displaying this behaviour. Left, a diminisher can destroy the confidence of a team.

This book is an easy read and essential for anyone who relies on people in their business. It will help leaders unleash smarts and capability in others by inspiring employees to stretch themselves to deliver results that surpass expectations.

Topgrading: The Proven Hiring and Promoting Method That Turbocharges Company Performance

By Bradford D Smart

Who should read this book: Anyone who hires, manages or coaches teams

“Shouldn’t we be as rigorous in hiring as we are in capital spending?” Bradford D. Smart

Leigh Paulden’s comments:

Topgrading is a proven methodology for hiring and promoting people for coaching and keeping top talent in your business. This is an essential book if you want to understand how you can employ fewer people, pay them more yet maintain a lower total wage cost.

This book provides the processes and the thinking to help you build a team of A players. Which in turn helps you to outperform your competitors in revenue, reducing your total wage cost, increasing your net profit and lowering your staff turnover. People who read this book have less trouble finding good people and will employ people they truly want to work with.

Bradford D. Smart has also produced the “Topgrading Handbook” that highlights the essential elements for building a team of A players. It’s a quick and easy read if you don’t have time to read the full book and will give you great insights into his proven hiring and promoting method.

Uncontainable: How Passion, Commitment, and Conscious Capitalism Built a Business Where Everyone Thrives

By Kip Tindell

Who should read this book: Anyone wanting to create and build a strong company culture.

“Treating your employees with affection and respect is not only the right thing to do, it also happens to be the fastest road to success. In fact, it’s much more successful than any other business methodology.” Kip Tindell

Leigh Paulden’s comments:

Uncontainable is by the founders of The Container Store (USA). This is one of America’s most ‘wanted to work for’ companies, year after year. The Container Store has grown at 25% per annum compounding for more than 30 consecutive years.

Uncontainable gives insights into the people side of the business, which is something that many companies do not get right. It shows how The Container Store thinks regarding their employees and hiring, and how the company thinks about and treats its customers.

It also gives insights into how the people add to The Container Store’s competitive advantage as a company. Uncontainable is an easy, compelling read, and a very well-written book.

The Ultimate Question 2.0: How Net Promoter Companies Thrive in a Customer-Driven World

By Fred Reichheld

Who should read this book: Any business serious about growth. Highly recommended for companies with $1M+ turnover, and a stable customer base to leverage off.

“Too many companies these days can’t tell the difference between good profits and bad. Certainly, accountants can’t tell the difference between good and bad profits. They all look the same on an income statement. I’ll give you an example of bad profits: any profits that are the result of things that would make customers recommend against you and say, ‘Don’t go there.’ Those are bad profits.” Frederick R. Reichheld

Leigh Paulden’s comments:

This book should be your GPS for company performance. Use it to drive organic growth in your business by creating ‘good profits’, that is, profits derived from enriching the lives of your customers.

The Ultimate Question 2.0 defines the concept of the Net Promoter Score and explains its connection to your company’s growth and success. It looks at the closed-loop feedback process and demonstrates the power it has to energise employees and delight customers. This is a powerful book and a must-read if you are serious about growth.

It’s a powerful book that can and does foster positive results. When businesses get the concepts in this book right – I personally have seen them achieve organic growth of 10-15% each year.


By Geoff Smart and Randy Street

Who should read this book: People in a position where they employ others, all HR managers

“Don’t hire with your gut feel. Most people hire with their gut — they just decide if they like someone or not and then they hire them. That’s the most common way hiring happens in the world and it doesn’t work. It leads to about a 50% hiring failure rate — that’s based on about half a century worth of data on it.” Geoff Smart

Leigh Paulden’s comments:

Great book and I highly recommend you read this after Topgrading. Who is a simple, practical, and effective solution to avoiding unsuccessful hiring. It will help you discover who you need in your business and why. It’s very practical, with relevant, actionable details, sprinkled with anecdotes about successful and unsuccessful recruiting experiences.

Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable

By Seth Godin

Who should read this business strategy book: Anyone with something to sell

“I believe we’ve now reached the point where we can no longer market directly to the masses. We’ve created a world where most products are invisible. The traditional approaches are now obsolete. One hundred years of marketing thought are gone. Alternative approaches aren’t a novelty – they are all we’ve got left.” Seth Godin

Leigh Paulden’s comments:

Seth tells us that marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department. In Purple Cow, which is an interesting and easy read, you will learn the “how” of differentiation. How do you stand out from the crowd?

This book takes marketing strategy to a whole different level and is about transforming your business by being remarkable. It’s honest, practical and features case studies that have meaning. It’s a plea for originality, for passion, guts, and daring.

It’s not unusual for this inspiring, self-help business book to be referred to as the marketing bible and has many accolades and awards singing its praises.


The Inside Advantage: The Strategy That Unlocks the Hidden Growth in Your Business

Who should read this business strategy book: Any business owner

“I don’t believe that any service or product is a commodity. Of course, commoditisation can and does occur, but only when a firm allows it to happen.” Robert Bloom

Leigh Paulden’s comments:

This is a bible for developing customer personas for establishing who your core customer is, what your uncommon offering is and how to convince that customer to buy your specialist offering. Bloom explains how to own the process through a series of imaginative acts to celebrate your uncommon offering that will appeal to your core customer.

Bloom leads you on a journey of insight into the core values of your business. It will guide you to a clear understanding of who your customers are and what your specific offerings to those customers should be. The underlying message is that the key to growing your business already exists inside your business – you just have to find it. His four step Growth Discovery Process is powerful and easy to implement. This is a vital read taking you and your products from channel to market.

How Companies Win: Profiting from Demand-Driven Business Models No Matter What Business You’re In

By Rick Kash and David Calhoun

Who should read this business strategy book: Any business owner wanting to add value to their clients

“Nothing causes business leaders to pay attention like the change in business results. When you’re not as successful as you’ve been in the past, you’ll ask what’s changed, and how can I adjust?” Rick Kash

Leigh Paulden’s comments:

This is a book that goes deep not wide. Instead of diversifying or adding products, this book will help you see how you can add more value for the customers you already have.

In our changing global and local environments, the era of oversupply and heightened global competition, this book uses real examples, real facts and experiences from business leaders who have made changes. It’s more than theory – this book is packed full of tools that can be used straight away to solve many everyday challenges.

This is a compelling call-to-action that has relevance across any company of any size and at all levels of operation.

The Greatest Business Decisions of All Time: How Apple, Ford, IBM, Zappos and Others Made Radical Changes That Changed the Course of Business

By Verne Harnish and the editors of Fortune

Who should read this business strategy book: Any business owner

“The question is not what the world does to you, but how you make an impact on the world. Decision making is ultimately a creative act.” Jim Collins, writer of the Foreword

Leigh Paulden’s comments:

Decisions equal success. Nothing happens until one is made. This book, with contributions from various Fortune authors, presents multiple case studies, full of lessons and tips  you can apply in your own business to get results. Jim Collins writes the Foreword, in which he reflects that the greatest decisions ever made in businesses were not what – but by who. They were people decisions, therefore you need the right people in your team.

Through these 18 untold stories, legendary, controversial, and successful decisions, there are many pearls of wisdom. Be it from Henry Ford’s doubling his worker’s wages in 1914 to Apple bringing back Steve Jobs, every decision had an impact on the business world.

I highly recommend this book – it’s informative, thought-provoking, and will have an impact on your thinking and decision-making!

Uncommon Service: How to Win by Putting Customers at the Core of Your Business

By Francis Frei and Anne Morriss

The Four Decisions: Strategy

Who should read this business strategy book: Any business who values their customer

“Is it better to be unique or is being better unique?” Francis Frei and Anne Morriss

Leigh Paulden’s comments:

To ensure your customers stay the number one priority in your business there are things that you need to do internally to achieve this. To differentiate yourself using a unique selling point as a competitive advantage to initiate growth, you need to get it right. If your customers love you, they bring more customers. This book is thought provoking and shows you practical ways to position yourself to be customer-centric. Business is no longer about what we make, but about how we treat people. This book is about how you design excellence into the very fabric of your business.

Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits: 4 Keys to Unlock Your Business Potential

By Greg Crabtree

Who should read this book: Small to medium business owners and leaders

“A budget is a license to spend; a forecast is your road map to profitability.” Greg Crabtree

Leigh Paulden’s comments:

This is the only book I have read that takes the financial side of a growing business and explains it well, with no jargon and in a way everyone can understand. This book has the power to change how you do business. It points out what is really important, how to structure your processes and how that should be reflected in numbers.

This is a no-frills guide that will take the mystery out of small-medium sized business finance and help you to understand the numbers that will guide your business out of any financial black hole.

It’s simple, yet powerful and relevant for every new and growing business…as well as many established ones that should be performing better.

Built To Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You

By John Warrillow

Who should read this book: Anyone planning to sell their business in three to five years time

“Don’t be afraid to say no to projects. Prove that you’re serious about specialisation by turning down work that falls outside your area of expertise. The more people you say no to, the more referrals you’ll get to people who need your product or service.” John Warrillow

Leigh Paulden’s comments:

Every business needs to ensure it’s valuable to someone else. This book is a must read for those wanting to grow and build a business that has market value – I highly recommend it for baby boomers who are looking to exit their business in the next number of years.

This book leads you through your business model and what you need to have in place to make it an attractive proposition. It goes beyond what you need and delves into how to make it happen. From recurring revenue streams to how to restructure, so that the business does not rely so heavily on one person, this will provide interesting insights and ways you can increase the value of your business.

Business Model Generation

By Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur and others

Who should read this book: Anyone looking at their business model or looking at bringing a new product or service to market

“The same products, services or technologies can fail or succeed depending on the business model you choose. Exploring the possibilities is critical to finding a successful business model.” Alexander Osterwalder

Leigh Paulden’s comments:

The front cover tells us this is a handbook for visionaries, game changers and challengers. If you want to be great at what you do, this will take you through your current business model, help you understand where you want to be and help you get there. It’s a framework to help you identify channels to market, distribution and how you can add extra value. The book will help you systematically understand, design and differentiate your business model.

4 Disciplines of Execution

4 Disciplines of Execution

By Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling

Who should read this book: Every business leader wanting to sustainably grow their business.

“The 4 Disciplines of Execution offers…the ‘what’ but also ‘how’ effective execution is achieved. They share numerous examples of companies that have done just that, not once, but over and over again. This is a book that every leader should read!” Clayton Christensen, Professor, Harvard Business School, and author of The Innovator’s Dilemma

Leigh Paulden’s comments:

The 4 Disciplines of Execution is a simple and repeatable formula that will help you execute your most important priorities while you are dealing with your day to day. I particularly like it because it promotes a set of practices that have been tested and refined by hundreds of firms over many years.

Companies that execute really well understand that their success is dependent on having four disciplines in place. The book explains that an important part of getting execution right is having the company energy focus on what they call the “wildly important goal” or top priority. This means team buy-in and commitment are critical to successful execution – without them, your chances are almost nil. And in this, I agree. The book explains how to gain the buy-in and commitment critical to success and achieving the wildly import goal. It also explains why each discipline is so important and how to achieve these. I see this as a must-read book.

Six Disciplines® Execution Revolution: Solving the One Business Problem That Makes Solving All Other Problems Easier

By Gary Harpst

Who should read this book: Senior and middle managers, as well as business owners

“In my experience, most leaders of small to midsized organizations do not have a clear understanding of the relationship between strategy, execution, and excellence.” Gary Harpst

Leigh Paulden’s comments:

Six Disciplines® Execution Revolution is one of my top rated execution books.

You can have the best strategy in the world, but if your company is weak at execution, you will not execute the strategy or get the results you expect or should have achieved. This book can really help your company improve its execution. Execution equals net profit and therefore directly influences how much net profit your company will make.

Six Disciplines® Execution Revolution is an engaging read that addresses and gives examples of getting things done. The guidance given through this book is very actionable and achievable for your company.

Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done

By Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan

Who should read this book: Anyone wants to increase their productivity and have better execution across their business

“Execution has to be a part of a company’s strategy and its goals. It is the missing link between aspirations and results. As such, it is a major—indeed, the major—job of a business leader. If you don’t know how to execute, the whole of your effort as a leader will always be less than the sum of its parts.” Larry Bossidy

Leigh Paulden’s comments:

When you want to get things done, and you want results – read this book. It will help! It will lead you through how to stay focused and make things happen. It looks at ‘what’ you need to do to prompt the actions you need to execute to reach your goals. Effective execution is a system that needs to be built into your business strategy, goals and culture – this book will add huge clarity to help you do things better.

Turn the Ship Around: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders

By L. David Marquet

Who should read this book: Anyone who leads a team or aspires to become a business leader

“Leadership should mean giving control rather than taking control and creating leaders rather than forging followers.” David Marquet

Leigh Paulden’s comments:

This “how to book” is a powerful narrative on how to grow leadership in people. It’s a true story and it’s relevant to any person in any level of a business structure. If someone has aspirations to empower the people around them and become a leader, regardless of their position, they will find this interesting and full of practical applications.

Strong leadership within teams will drive huge improvements in business execution and this book is a ‘go to’ resource (and a good read) on how to turn followers into leaders. Read it, pass it around and watch the level of engagement and execution within your team grow!

Spin Selling Fieldbook: Practical Tools, Methods, Exercises, and Resources

By Neil Rackham

Who should read this book: Anyone in a sales role

“Is your sales call so valuable that your client would write you a check for your visit?” Neil Rackham

Leigh Paulden’s comments:

This practical book is about the structure of selling. Sales is a process and this book does the thinking for you on how to put the process together. To successfully push your prospects up, you need the process, you need to measure and track and this is the sales ‘bible’ to help you do it all.

The book includes:

  • Individual diagnostic exercises
  • Illustrative case studies from leading companies
  • Practical planning suggestions
  • Provocative questionnaires
  • Practice sessions to prepare you for dealing with challenging selling situations

Getting Naked: A Business Fable About Shedding The Three Fears That Sabotage Client Loyalty

By Patrick Lencioni

Who should read this book: Anyone in a sales role and all business owners

“If everything is important, then nothing is.” Patrick Lencioni

Leigh Paulden’s comments:

Sales have changed – the most recent GFC had an impact, the internet impacts – so how do you stay on top of these shifts? This book is very easy to read, and written as a fable it is digestible and a brilliant example on consultative selling. I recommend this as a key resource for gaining competitive advantage in tough times. It shows us why the quality of vulnerability is important in business and includes many ideas for inspiring customer and client loyalty.