9 L&D Books Chief Learning Officers Should Read in 2024 - Senior Executive

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Learning and Development (L&D) Resources 7 min

9 Learning and Development Books Chief Learning Officers Should Read in 2024

Looking for the best learning and development books? These recommended books offer insights and strategies to help you improve your organization’s approach to learning and development.

by Zee Johnson on December 1, 2023


  • These books touch on everything L&D, from talent management to upskilling, framing these topics in the context of a changing workforce with modern-day challenges.

  • Authors include a variety of L&D professionals and leadership coaches with expert insight on navigating topics in L&D.

  • Reading these books can encourage leaders to better understand how to unlock their employees’ potential, drive results, and harmonize their organizations.

As chief learning officers, you know how important continuous learning is. We’ve gathered a list of must-read books recommended by your peers which will help you polish up on the latest leadership strategies. From navigating through workplace crises to delivering effective feedback, these books will give you key business insights so you can focus on the important things: cultivating the best culture of learning for your workforce. 

We spoke with chief learning officers and learning leaders across industries to develop this list of L&D books to read in 2024.

The Senior Executive L&D editorial team is constantly speaking with L&D leaders to keep up with new developments and trends in the industry for our collection of L&D resources. To suggest additions for this resource, please contact Senior Executive Media at editor@seniorexecutive.com.

You’re It: Crisis, Change, and How to Lead When It Matters Most

  • Author: Leonard J. Marcus, Eric J. McNulty, Joseph M. Henderson, Barry C. Dorn
  • Publish Date: 2019
  • Pages: 304
  • Summary: Written by members of Harvard’s National Preparedness Leadership Initiative team, “You’re It: Crisis, Change, and How to Lead When it Matters Most,” details the key components that a leader should possess during a crisis. Whether you’re maneuvering through product recalls or customer backlash, learn how to effectively join the path to recovery.   
  • Why it’s a must-read: “This book is all about having accountability, and also it has a model for mental leadership in it.” — Wendy Walsh, chief learning officer at the U.S. Air Force

The First 90 Days, Updated and Expanded

  • Author: Michael D. Watkins
  • Publish Date: 2013
  • Pages: 304
  • Summary: Watkins provides readers with a guide to effectively maneuver the first three months of a new position. Whether you’re joining a new company, moving up the ranks within your existing organization, or managing new hire training, use this resource to avoid missteps and meet the high expectations many experience in today’s workforce. 
  • Why it’s a must-read: “For an executive to step in and set an agenda is important for credibility.” — Andrea Hoban, cofounder and CLO at Oji Life Lab

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful!

  • Author: Marshall Goldsmith
  • Publish Date: 2007
  • Pages: 256
  • Summary: “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” shows leaders how to continue on the road to success by eliminating disadvantageous habits. Corporate executive coach Marshall Goldsmith outlines 20 bad habits that are common amongst already successful people, such as having conversations when angry.
  • Why it’s a must-read: “This was an impactful read because of the important reminder to continuously develop yourself and learn, regardless of how much success you’ve had up to that point.” — Graham Peelle, Senior Executive L&D Think Tank Member

Ego is the Enemy

  • Author: Ryan Holiday
  • Publish Date: 2016
  • Pages: 256
  • Summary: In “Ego is the Enemy,” author Ryan Holiday says that the biggest professional and personal impediment is one’s ego. Not only can ego stop learning in its tracks, Holiday says, it can also make people oblivious to their biggest faults. This book uses concrete examples of how the world’s most successful people, such as Jackie Robinson, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Bill Belichick, reached success.
  • Why it’s a must-read: “There’s a lot of ego in leadership, and that’s the enemy. [This book] inspires you to ask a lot of really good questions and listen to what’s being said because generally speaking, if you have a strong organization, the answers you want and need are generally inside the walls.” — Craig Maloney, CEO at InStride

Feedback (And Other Dirty Words)

  • Author: M. Tamra Chandler and Laura Dowling Grealish
  • Publish Date: 2019
  • Pages: 208
  • Summary: Co-authors M. Tamra Chandler and Laura Downling Grealish unpack the stigma surrounding the word feedback and its traditionally negative responses. Chandler and Grealish explain the concept of feedback seekers, extenders, and receivers, and how if given correctly, feedback could be one of the most effective ways of strengthening organizational communication.
  • Why it’s a must-read: “The way [they] break down feedback is something that should always be done. Feedback doesn’t need to be a once annual thing … Why aren’t we constantly asking? She makes dealing with performance evaluation feedback manageable.” — Andrea Hoban, cofounder and CLO at Oji Life Lab

The Expertise Economy

  • Author: Kelly Palmer and David Blake
  • Publish Date: 2018
  • Pages: 240
  • Summary: Skills are ever-changing, especially with the introduction of automated tools. In “The Expertise Economy,” Kelly Palmer and David Blake unveil how organizations can be proactive about building the skill sets that are needed to withstand impending market and industry shifts. The book features interviews from leaders at MasterCard and Airbnb and details how they and other top companies are reskilling and upskilling their employees by teaching the skills that will carry them well into the future.
  • Why it’s a must-read: “[Palmer] says that the economy of tomorrow is knowledge and the skills that you have. I see skills as the major currency of the future. Even with automation and with machines getting smarter, the skills we have are going to be the wealth of the future.” — Annee Bayeux, chief learning strategist at Degreed.

Smart Choices: A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions

  • Author: John S. Hammond, Ralph L. Keeney, Howard Raiffa
  • Publish Date: 2015
  • Pages: 256
  • Summary: In this book, the authors discuss how individuals can approach decision-making from a more confident and thoughtful perspective for their decisions to be more impactful. Learn how to break decisions down into segments, analyze plans properly, consider relevant information in formulating a decision, and more. 
  • Why it’s a must-read: “They have a model that breaks down how to make decisions in your life that you can feel really confident about.” — Andrea Hoban, cofounder and CLO at Oji Life Lab 

The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact

  • Author: Chip Heath, Dan Heath
  • Publish Date: 2017
  • Pages: 320
  • Summary: Written by brothers Chip and Dan Heath, this book examines why humans experience pivotal moments the way that they do, such as remembering the greatest or worst parts of a memorable occasion and not the occurrences in between. The book shows readers how to embrace connection, elevation, insight, and pride — the four pillars that the Heath brothers say make up humans’ most important moments — to take charge of their own life experiences.
  • Why it’s a must-read: “This is an amazing book that has everything to do with the experiences that we give our people. It makes you reevaluate [what] you’re leaving for your employees.” — Rhonda Anderson, head of talent development at Southern Research, and Senior Executive L&D Think Tank member 

Community: The Structure of Belonging, Second Edition

  • Author: Peter Block
  • Publish Date: 2018
  • Pages: 256
  • Summary: In this book, author Peter Block addresses the division between community entities, such as schools, businesses, government, and churches, and how the marginalization of people leads to neglected talents and a hankering for belonging. “Community: The Structure of Belonging” focuses on how people can go from only considering their individual needs to accounting for the needs of society by working in conjunction with others to reach a transformative common ground.
  • Why it’s a must-read: “This book is powerful because sometimes you’re not on the same page as someone, and it makes you think: How can we get there?” — Wendy Walsh, chief learning officer at the U.S. Air Force

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