10/07/2013 13:39 BST | Updated 04/09/2013 06:12 BST

Can You Improve Your Business Skills By Reading Macbeth?

Any manager today knows the problem. You want to keep improving your skills and learning more about sales, marketing, or management - all the things a modern manager needs - and the management book section is always heaving with new titles, but which ones are worth reading?

According to one author of leadership books, writing in Fast Company, precisely none are worth bothering with - including his own contribution to the management genre.


Because a good book can change your life, it can make you do things you never dreamed of, but the books that inspire people to react in this way are almost always fiction. Can you remember reading a book on blue-sky thinking and leaping out of your chair full of inspiration?

But management courses don't teach fiction and managers generally rely on management writers to give their methods credibility. If your latest budget was prepared using some strategy designed by Michael Porter from Harvard then that reassures the manager checking your work.

Now imagine if you said that your budget was assisted by the work of Tom Sawyer or Arthur Conan Doyle?

But a lot of management, sales, and marketing activities are all about stories. The easiest way to inspire a team is to give them a story about what you are all trying to achieve together. The easiest way to inspire trust in a customer is to talk about a situation in which they could use and enjoy your product, rather than trying to hard sell it to them.

In Fast Company, they used One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest as a great example of a book that can inspire trust and leadership. The day has truly arrived when a business magazine advises readers that Beat generation novels have more to teach us than leadership books!

I'm sticking to the fiction section of the library in future.