The Best Books for the Culture Leader or Internal Communications Pro on Your Christmas List

Brand and Strategy Employee Experience













Ahh, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. For a girl who loves to shop, it’s a fun time of year and it definitely launches me into the Christmas spirit.


Christmas is a lovely time of the year and one of the things l love most is gift giving. I am the most awkward person when it comes to receiving gifts, but I do excel at every part of the giving – planning, shopping and wrapping (I’m obsessed with beautiful wrapping paper).


Giving a really great book is always a good choice. If you’ve got a culture leader or internal communication specialist on your Christmas list, or if you want to treat yourself  to the gift of knowledge, then here is a list of some of the great books I’ve read over the years and would recommend to anyone who wants to build a workplace where people thrive. Most of these books are more than ten years old but the lessons they contain are more important today than ever.


My Internal Communication Reading List


  1. Brand from the Inside: Eight Essentials to Emotionally Connect Your Employees to Your Business. Libby Sartain and Mark Schumann. Jossey-Bass. 2006. This book changed the trajectory of my career and fueled my passion for internal communication.

“If it doesn’t happen inside, it can’t happen outside.”


  1. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Die and Others Survive. Chip Heath and Dan Heath. Random House. 2007. Another foundational book that dives deep into how the human brain works, helping us understand how to develop meaningful and memorable communication. I’ve read all of the Heath brother’s books (they have one on change called Switch) and they are all great.


  1. The Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable. Seth Godin. Penguin Books. 2003. While the book is about marketing, it really helps you understand how to break through the noise and clutter in organizations.


  1. The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything. Stephen M.R. Covey. Free Press. 2006 and Smart Trust: How People, Companies and Countries are Prospering From High Trust in a Low Trust World. Stephen M.R. Covey. Simon and Schuster. 2012. These are two seminal books on the power of trust in organizations and how trust can boost performance, satisfaction and almost every other metric in relationships and in organizations.


  1. Captivology: The Science of Capturing People’s Attention. Ben Parr. Harper One. 2015.  I am fascinated with the human brain and this book explores not only how to captivate people’s attention, but also explores important topics like intrinsic motivation and listening.

“It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear.”


  1. Leading Change. John P. Kotter. Harvard Business Review Press. 1996.  This book was published almost 25 years ago and despite all of the change failures and angst, most organizations fail to follow Kotter’s straight forward eight step process for leading change.

 “Whenever human communities are forced to adjust to shifting conditions, pain is ever present. But a significant amount of the waste and anguish we’ve witnessed in the past decade is avoidable.”


  1. Measure What Matters: Online Tools for Understanding Customers, Social Media, Engagement and Key Relationships. Katie Delahaye Paine. John Wiley & Sons. 2011. I’m in the business of strategic internal communication to get results for my clients not to develop strategies that sit on a shelf. To be honest, there is no greater thrill than sharing data that proves your strategy has worked and this book helped me take my measurement game to the next level!


  1. The Naked Corporation: How the Age of Transparency Will Revolutionize Business. Don Tapscott and David Ticoll. Free Press. 2003.  Another old one. Too bad organizations still hoard and hide information.  There is a great chapter about the power of transparency inside organizations.

“If you are going to be naked, you better be buff.”


  1. Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Brené Brown. Ebury Digital. 2018. I love all of Brené’s books and no reading list would be complete without mentioning at least one of her books. Her work on vulnerability and courage really support the type of leadership behaviours that support trust, openness and belonging in organizations. The other important thing Brené teaches us is how to have empathy and this is another important lesson that will help us make the world of work a better place.


  1. The Purpose Revolution: How Leaders Create Engagement and Competitive Advantage in an Age of Social Good. John P. Izzo. Jeff Vanderwielen, Berrett-Koehler. 2018. My dad was a nature lover and environmentalist and the apple (me) hasn’t fallen far from the tree – except for my love of pretty Christmas wrap. I believe in the importance of building a conscious culture inside organizations. My children are in their late teens and as they explore their career options, I’ve noticed that they are interested in working for companies with a purpose that is greater than profit. This book is a great source of case studies and research that confirm the benefit of building purpose-led organizations. It helped me understand how to define an authentic purpose and then bring it to life.

“A nice mission statement and donations to charity won’t make your company stand out.”


11. Ignite Your Culture: Six Steps to Fuel Your People, Profits and Potential. Carol Ring. 2014. My friend Carol has written a great book with a six step process that includes a proven and easy to follow framework to design and shift your culture.


“It’s time to acknowledge today’s organizations are not about products, slogans, and manufacturing lines. They are all about people. People – not products, produce profits. When people gather together in a workplace, an organizational culture is born.”


That’s my list!


I’d love to hear about your favourite books about workplace culture and internal communications. Please visit our Instagram feed and leave me a suggestion of some books to put on my Christmas list for 2020.

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