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Top Wharton professor Adam Grant: These 6 new books about psychology can help you succeed at work

Adam Grant
 Marla Aufmuth | Getty Images
Adam Grant

If you're hoping to communicate more effectively and make better decisions at work, Wharton professor and organizational psychologist Adam Grant has several book recommendations to help you start "thinking differently about work and life," he writes on LinkedIn.

Grant specializes in the science behind achievement as a Saul P. Steinberg Professor of Management at The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania and is an author of three New York Times bestselling books on workplace culture and psychology.

Grant shared 13 books on LinkedIn that will be available for purchase this fall, and these six emphasize research from psychology you can use to get ahead at work.

1. "The Person You Mean To Be" by Dolly Chugh

Creating a culture of inclusion and equality is an increasingly important skill for business leaders. In "The Person You Mean To Be," New York University Stern School of Business social psychologist Dolly Chugh explains how everyone can spot bias in their day to day actions — and what they can do about it. Chugh aims to provide a step-by-step guide for how to think about inclusion and what strategies to implement.

"Finally: a lively, evidence-based book about how to battle biases, champion diversity and inclusion, and advocate for those who lack power and privilege," Grant writes about the book, published Tuesday. "An unusually thoughtful psychologist makes a convincing case that being an ally isn't about being a good person—it's about constantly striving to be a better person."

2. "Farsighted" by Steven Johnson

In "Farsighted," published Tuesday, author Steven Johnson examines which strategies are the most effective for making the big, long term decisions in life. "The smartest decision-makers don't go with their guts," according to the book's summary. "Their success relies on having a future-oriented approach and the ability to consider all their options in a creative, productive way."

Maintaining a long term mindset has been a key for success for leaders from Warren Buffett to Jay Z, and other business magnates like billionaire hedge fund founder Ray Dalio agree that decisions made with a strategic process see the best outcomes.

Getting those few important decisions right is important, Grant writes about the book: "Our biggest regrets in life revolve around situations in which we made the wrong predictions about the future."

3. "Rule Makers, Rule Breakers" by Michele Gelfand

Cultural psychologist Michele Gelfand explores social norms around the globe in "Rule Makers, Rule Breakers," which will be published Sept. 11. Grant calls it, "a fascinating book that offers a fresh way of making sense of cultural differences."

Through two decades worth of original studies and in person observations, Gelfand discovers that all behavior is "highly influenced by the perception of threat," and understanding that can "trigger cooperation or conflict."

4. "Imagine it Forward" by Beth Comstock

From GE's former Vice Chair Beth Comstock, "Imagine it Forward" "is full of insights about how to thrive in a bureaucracy—and then transform it into an innovation machine," Grant writes of the book. "An effective, admired executive tells the engrossing inside story of how she rose to the upper echelons of GE and spearheaded a sea of change."

Creating an innovative culture may be more difficult than it sounds: 96 percent of senior executives say their companies provide channels for new ideas, but only half of entry level employees agreed, according to a 2018 survey by EY.

5. "Joyful" by Ingrid Fetell Lee

In "Joyful," published Tuesday, design expert Ingrid Fetell Lee explores how our physical environment impacts emotion and mood, and how we can alter it to "harness the power of our surroundings to live fuller, healthier, and truly joyful lives," according to the book's summary.

"Joy is the most basic building block of happiness, and this mesmerizing book reveals where to find it—and how to create it," Grant writes on LinkedIn. "A former IDEO portfolio director shows us how to redesign the aesthetics of our schools, hospitals, homes, and workplaces."

Other experts like Marie Kondo, author of "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up," agree that changing your space can have the power to change your mood and productivity.

6. "The Personality Brokers" by Merve Emre

At some point in your career, you may have been asked to take a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality test. In "The Personality Brokers," to be published Sept. 11, author Merve Emre explores how the test became so popular and how it has shaped the culture of work.

"An English professor and literary critic deftly exposes the hidden origins of the MBTI and the seductive appeal and fatal flaws of personality types," Grant writes. "Ultimately, she reveals that a sense of self is less something we discover, and more something we create and revise."

To see Grant's full list, check out his LinkedIn post here.

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