A culture is a hidden force that drives everything we say, do and act. And because it’s so ingrained into an individual or an organization, most of us either ignore it entirely or accept that there’s nothing we can do about it.

Many entrepreneurs and leaders spend a lot of time developing an air-tight business plans, clear go-to-market strategies and detailed financial models that they end up seeing only the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps, they should be equally concerned in what they don’t see often, that is the values, norms and culture of their organizations.

As Peter Drucker puts its, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Here are some of my favorite books that will help you become more aware of these hidden forces and in the process, become a more effective leader.

The Hard Thing about Hard Things

Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley’s most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, offers essential advice on building and running a startup—practical wisdom for managing the toughest problems business school doesn’t cover, based on his popular ben’s blog.

Key Takeaway:

The famous “don’t bring me a problem without brining me a solution” stops information from flowing freely.

Use decisive language like “I have decided” when you have to fire someone. Don’t leave the discussion open-ended.

There’s only a great executive for a specific company at a specific point in time.

Delivering Happiness

In Delivering Happiness, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh shares the different lessons he has learned in business and life, from starting a worm farm to running a pizza business, through LinkExchange, Zappos, and more. Fast-paced and down-to-earth, Delivering Happiness shows how a very different kind of corporate culture is a powerful model for achieving success-and how by concentrating on the happiness of those around you, you can dramatically increase your own. #1 New York Timesand Wall Street Journal bestseller

Key Takeaway:

Make WOW a verb part of your company’s dictionary. Remember every customer interaction is an opportunity to WOW. Tell stories of WOW experiences to everyone in the company.

Give new hires an incentive to quit (Zappos offers new hires $2k to quit voluntarily at the end of the training program). Make sure employees are here for more than a paycheck.

The Infinite Game

the infinite game summary

In this revelatory new book, Simon Sinek offers a framework for leading with an infinite mindset. On one hand, none of us can resist the fleeting thrills of a promotion earned or a tournament won, yet these rewards fade quickly. In pursuit of a Just Cause, we will commit to a vision of a future world so appealing that we will build it week after week, month after month, year after year. Although we do not know the exact form this world will take, working toward it gives our work and our life meaning.

Key Takeaway:

Leaders are not responsible for the results. Leaders are responsible for the people who are responsible for the results. Optimize your environment where information can flow freely, mistakes can be highlighted, and help can be offered and received.

Best is not the permanent state. Incite-minded leaders understand this, which is why they strive to be better.

The Culture Code

Culture is not something you are—it’s something you do. The Culture Code puts the power in your hands. No matter the size of your group or your goal, this book can teach you the principles of cultural chemistry that transform individuals into teams that can accomplish amazing things together.

Key Takeaway:

There’re 3 pillars of high-performing teams (1) build safety (2) share vulnerability (3) establish purpose.

Give magical phrase “I’m giving you these comments because I’ve very high expectations and I know that you can reach them.”

Remember belonging and higher purpose needs to be continually refreshed.

Work Rules!

work rules

Work Rules! shows how to strike a balance between creativity and structure, leading to success you can measure in quality of life as well as market share. Read it to build a better company from within rather than from above; read it to reawaken your joy in what you do.

Key Takeaway:

If you’re managing performance well, the performance discussions will never be a surprise.

Many top companies from Dropbox to Facebook had adopted the name ‘People Operations’ instead of ‘HR’.