Great business books for working mothers

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The following books are a great resource for working parents. They focus on professional development, personal goal setting, organization, efficiency in the workplace, and women in business. What books would you add to this list?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

General Business 

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

An overview of the ways successful people function. Don’t have time to read the book?  Check out their website.  It’s great for a refresher as well.  I have a tab in my OneNote called “Daily Reminders” that stemmed from my work in this book.  I try to review it every morning to remember what my goals are (for this year, the next 5 years, and my lifetime).   

How to make friends and influence people

This classic is a must read for any business woman who wants to grow her ability to influence others in a way that is mutually beneficial. This is a great business book for working mothers. While some of the language and examples are dated, don’t overlook the simple messages that will elevate any professional who leverages the book’s wisdom. 

The Art of War

My former manager read How to make friends and influence people and The Art of War once a year. I witnessed him make an impact in my company in ways I never knew were possible.  For those who want to think more strategically when interacting with colleagues, teammates, or the general public, this is a must read. 

Getting Naked

Not my favorite title, but this fictional story takes readers through a how-to for engaging in difficult conversations with candor and authenticity. My unofficial statistic finds that most problems are a result of people not having difficult conversations with others due to fear of rejection, uneasiness around making others feel uncomfortable, or a belief that the issue doesn’t warrant the stress that a direct conversation might create. I consider this a great business book for working mothers and a cornerstone for leading great teams.

Give and Take

I read this for my Executive MBA program as part of our required reading for our cohort.  It articulated what I have always believed – that by giving freely to support others, we build system that will one day benefit us when we need our network.  Helping others is not about expecting a favor in return but in the mutual belief that we all have something to give and we all are able to ask for help. Give and Take is another must read for working mothers.

Grit

This is an entire book dedicated to proving that success has more to do with consistent behaviors than it does genetics or intelligence.  Highly recommend. 

Quiet

One of my other top recommended books for teams, managers, and anyone who knows an introvert (all of us). It’s a fantastic read to help you understand the incredible contributions that introverts make on a team and in your personal life. I frequently used Susan Cain’s valuable lessons when working with introverts on projects.    

Atomic Habits

This book is dedicated to explaining how huge gains are made through small, consistent habits completed daily. When I question my progress on a project or venture, I remember that modest wins day after day will take me farther than quick blasts of unsustainable progress. Example: flash diets are rarely sustainable but it’s the consistent habit of eating healthy that maintains long-term weight loss and overall health. 

Flow

This is a fantastic book on how to stop looking for “the perfect job” and finding enjoyment in the work you’re already doing.  I lean toward the belief that my work should be more rewarding than not, but I do not look to it for my sole purpose and happiness. My entire life should serve that purpose and there are many ways to gain happiness outside of one’s profession.  This book teaches readers to find joy in even the most mundane of tasks. 

Productivity 

Thoughtfully Ruthless

If I had one book on time management to recommend for modern working mothers it would be Thoughtfully Ruthless by Val Wright. An MBA classmate who worked with Val at Amazon gifted me this book and so much of my daily work habits came from this book. While it’s a quick read, the content is meaty and requires time to think through its application. Thoughtfully Ruthless tackles both the philosophical⁠ and practical side of productivity, something that other books fail to integrate.

The 5AM Club

It’s no secret that starting your day just a little bit earlier gives you a head start on what you want to accomplish.  Warning, the writing is a bit fanciful, but the lessons are worth considering. I read finished this during my third trimester and then wondered why I decided to read a book about getting up early when I was about to enter the fourth trimester filled with sleep deprivation.  And yet, as I built my post-maternity leave schedule, I thought about these principles again and again.

Eat that Frog

A strange title that references a key point in the book: if you know you must eat a frog, put it first on your to do list so that you build your day on having completed your hardest (or grossest) task.  It’s a quick read for easy hacks to be more efficient.  I read over the list once a year to remind myself of these important habits to keep. 

Make your Bed

Written by Admiral William H. Raven, this book focuses on his lessons learned from Navy Seal training.  This makes for a great audio book to listen to while working around the house.  It highlights the kind of simple behaviors that create a strong foundation for day-to-day successes.  

Books for Women 

Lean In

For any woman who wants to better manage her career and seize available opportunities, this seminal book kicked off a global reckoning for women who want to grow. 

Fair Play

My husband and I implemented the Fair Play card game right before I went back to work after maternity leave and I can say that the majority of our post-baby, post-mat leave marital satisfaction is in part due to this book. Must read for parents.

Bringing up Bebe

A fantastic read for new mothers who want to expand their understanding of how American mother culture compares to French motherhood.

The Fifth Trimester

This book is now a standard gift that I will give to all new moms who plan to go back to work after maternity leave. If the fourth trimester is the first 3 months postpartum, then the fifth trimester is the next time period that’s dedicated to when a woman first goes back to work post maternity leave. This book was my kind of book – filled with data, hacks, personal stories, and great life lessons. A must read for any working mother post maternity leave.

Personal growth 

Codependent No More

Ignore the title and apply the principles for a more balanced and calmer life personally and professionally. This book is a legend with therapists around boundaries, detachment, and self-care. I haven’t met a person who isn’t co-dependent, so…I think everyone should read it. Warning, the examples in the book are a bit dated but the principles are timeless. 

Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

I’m a firm believer that being organized is a way to level up your efficiency and success. Seven years later and I’m still folding my clothes the Marie Kondo way and thanking my possessions before passing them along to another user.

The Five Love Languages

I rarely recommend pop psychology books because they lack evidenced based research, tend to be trendy and rarely withstand the test of time.  However, I find this book to be very helpful in relationships. Knowing your partner’s love language so that you can freely support them in the way that best fits their personality saves time spent on unnecessary heartache and builds trust.  And, knowing your partner’s love language helps you recognize when they are showing their appreciation and admiration in return.   

Fiction & Poetry

I believe that reading books for pleasure is just as important as the ones that help readers gain insight on a new skill or behavior. The following books lingered for weeks, months, and even years after I enjoyed them: What Kind of Woman, Middlesex, Olive Kitteridge, The Goldfinch, The Optimistic Decade, The Poisonwood Bible, and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

Fashion

I would be remiss if I didn’t share my favorite books on fashion.

Paris Street Style: A Guide to Effortlessly Chic

I am drawn to the effortless and natural look of French women. Less is more with the French and they always have a pulled together style no matter the occasion.

Style by Kate Spade

Great style is inspired by the world around us. I appreciated learning how to cultivate my own style by learning from an expert herself.

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