10 Best Company Culture Books for Startup Founders

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As your startup begins to grow and you find yourself taking on more and more team members, how do you ensure that your company culture stays consistent with your values and priorities? 

While hiring the right people can be challenging, ensuring everyone on your most critical team(s) works together well and gets along can be an even greater challenge. The only way to build a solid culture is to take the company's reigns into your own hands and instill your vision, ideology, ethics, and drive into each and every one of your team members. 

To help your startup build a company culture you’re proud of, we’ve compiled a list of the best company culture books for entrepreneurs and founders. By reading these titles, you’ll find yourself being transported into different times, companies, and the minds of great leaders who came before you.

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Top Books About Company Culture

When all of your team members are aligned and on the same page with where your company is headed, you’ll find your company culture begins to “mesh together” and will likely see something beautiful begin taking shape. Building a culture that blows your competitors out of the water takes hard work, vision, and the ability to persevere through changes and difficulties along the way. 

Stop trying to learn everything about company culture yourself, and instead, take the time to read the lessons and strategies of those who came before you. Several companies in the past years and decades have been able to build incredible cultures within their internal teams and company groups, so why can’t you replicate their tactics and do the same? 

Take the time to truly understand what each of these books is attempting to convey. You’ll see your company culture transform into something incredible you never even imagined when you do so.

Also Recommended: Check out our list of the best startup books.

1. ‘Work Rules!: Insights From Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead’ by Laszlo Bock

Laszlo Bock’s “Work Rules!” is a great book for startup founders who want to learn everything there is to know about building an amazing company culture. The book begins by looking at what culture is, how you can search for the best talent, why you shouldn't always trust your instincts during interviews, and how you can do better than a standard performance management system. Bock then looks at the opportunities that lie in your best and worst employees, how you can build a learning institution in your business, how you should think about paying your employees, and incorporating nudging behaviors to increase productivity. 

2. ‘The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups’ by Daniel Coyle

The Culture Code” digs deep into the question, “Where does great culture really come from?” Author Daniel Coyle looks at what it takes to build and sustain a great culture in your organization and what you need to do to strengthen that culture to keep it thriving. You’ll learn how to build safety and a sense of belonging in your company, the importance of establishing purpose and genuine leadership, and why sharing vulnerability and not hiding it is integral to building an authentic organizational culture. 

3. ‘Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose’ by Tony Hsieh

Delivering Happiness” is a book dedicated to the process of building a company you can be proud of. You’ll learn all about building a profitable business and incorporating passion and vision into the mix. Tony Hsieh dives into building a platform for growth, including how you should structure and grow your brand, culture, and sales pipeline. In the final section, you’ll explore taking your company to the next level and end-game strategies for your business. 

4. ‘The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace’ by Ron Friedman

The Best Place to Work” is the perfect resource for founders who want to create one of the best places to work in their industry, attracting top-notch talent and building teams of top performers that run laps around the competition. In this book, you’ll learn all about why great workplaces reward failure, how office shape designs impact work culture, what you can learn from casinos about happy workplaces, and what it takes to turn a group of strangers into a tight-knit community. In the second section, Ron Friedman dives into leadership, using games and gamification for motivation, and the secrets to great management. The final part of this book looks at interviewing, reading people’s true potential, and what steps you need to take in your own organization to achieve lasting results and create a great place to work. 

5. ‘Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't’ by Simon Sinek

Leaders Eat Last” is a book dedicated to diving deep into company culture and building teams that pull together and achieve great results. Author Simon Sinek starts by describing our needs one by one, including our need to feel safe and secure and why all employees and teams need to be treated as people first. In the following chapters, you’ll learn about powerful forces that can foster team creation, what reality looks like in the workplace, work culture, and the challenges of abstraction. Sinek then goes into a concept he calls “destructive abundance” and what you need to do in your own startup to become a true leader that others look up to. 

Looking for more book recommendations? We asked startup founders to share their favorite books on entrepreneurship, and here's what they said.

6. ‘Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity’ by Kim Scott

Radical Candor” is your guide to being clear and kind at the same time, all while avoiding the perils of manipulative insincerity, obnoxious aggression, and ruinous empathy, as described by the author Kim Scott. In this book, you’ll learn about a new management philosophy that you should adopt to be a kind and clear boss, as well as the tools and techniques you need to know and implement to put this style of communication and leadership into practice. By following the “radical candor” framework, you’ll be on your way to building a startup culture and motivated team you can be proud of. 

7. ‘Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates’ by Karin Hurt and David Dye

Courageous Cultures” is an excellent resource for anyone who has been surprised that their employees have been holding back thoughts, comments, or ideas, even if they thought they had a work environment that encouraged others to speak up. 

Building such an environment and fostering the confidence your employees and team members need to contribute to the conversation isn’t an easy feat, and that is precisely what this book is all about. You’ll learn what courageous cultures are, the power of this type of culture, overcoming courage crushers, navigating the narrative, creating clarity, cultivating curiosity, practicing these principles day-to-day, and building a solid infrastructure for courage in your startup company.

8. ‘Humanocracy: Creating Organizations As Amazing As the People Inside Them’ by Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini

Humanocracy” is all about overcoming bureaucracy that creates timid and sluggish organizations and replacing it with something much better. Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini lay out a detailed blueprint for creating ingenious and inspiring companies that motivate the human beings within them to innovate and work to the best of their abilities. 

Hamel and Zanini begin by establishing “the case for humanocracy” and then dive into this concept in action. They go over the principles of this concept, including ownership, markets, meritocracy, community, openness, experimentation, and paradox. In the book's second half, the authors describe the path to humanocracy, and how you can implement it in your own company. 

9, ‘The Culture Question: How to Create a Workplace where People Like to Work’ by Randy Grieser, Eric Stutzman, Wendy Loewen, and Michael Labun

The Culture Question” is an excellent book for startup founders who want to create an environment where their employees and team members love to work and spend their working hours. Unfortunately, today, many people aren’t satisfied with their work environments — this book intends to change that for good. 

You’ll begin by exploring Grieser, Stutzman, Loewen, and Labun’s case for caring about your company culture and why it’s crucial. You’ll then learn about communicating your values and purpose, providing meaningful work, focusing your leadership team on people, building meaningful relationships, creating peak performance teams, practicing constructive conflict management, and changing your culture.

10. ‘Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility’ by Patty McCord

Powerful” is a book dedicated to helping startup founders, entrepreneurs, and business leaders build a culture filled with freedom and responsibility in their organizations. Author Patty McCord begins by describing this new way of working and why the greatest motivation is contributing to success. You’ll then learn all about why every single one of your employees needs to understand your business in-depth and why humans hate being spun and lied to. The latter sections discuss cultivating strong opinions, relentlessly focusing on your company's future, having the right person in every single position, and using proper judgment to determine compensation. 

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