As companies invest in career growth and employee morale, more employers are providing a professional development stipend for their teams.
What is a Professional Development Stipend?
A professional development stipend, or continuing education stipend, is an allowance offered to employees to spend on learning and development opportunities that enhance their career. This allows teams to improve their skillset, feel challenged, and develop new expertise.
Keep in mind that different companies might have specific guidelines on how professional development stipends can be used and how often they are replenished. Common uses of professional development stipends include attending industry-specific conferences or trainings, buying skill-building courses or newsletter subscriptions, and renewing memberships or licenses.
Buying Books with Your Professional Development Stipend
While those are all good options to spend your professional development stipend, don’t underestimate the power of a good book to boost your career growth. Books are an inexpensive way to gain insight on how to navigate the workplace, respond to challenges, work with people, and more. Here are 8 books you can purchase with your professional development allowance.
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Books on Professional Growth
“Give and Take,” by Wharton School professor Adam Grant, analyzes why success depends on how we interact with other people. Are you a Giver who does what’s best for others and who gives more than you get? Or a Taker who only looks out for yourself and who gets more than you give? Learn why Givers are most likely to both rise to the top of the success ladder and sink to the bottom.
Harvard Law School professors Bruce Patton, Douglas Stone, and Sheila Heen emphasize the importance of good communication in “Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss what Matters Most.” They show us how to navigate the discomfort of difficult conversations, whether it’s confronting an underperforming employee or asking for a raise. Learn the tips and tricks to improving your communication skills, including understanding the emotions involved, being a good listener, and moving away from blame and judgment.
In “How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion or Job,” Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith dive into the habits that often hinder women from their work environment and professional growth. They explain why you shouldn’t be held back by the habits you developed in the early stages of your career: While they might have once served you, they can undermine you as you seek to rise. In this book, Helgesen and Goldsmith focus on the habits, beliefs and standards that hold women back, but Goldsmith has also authored “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful” for the general audience.
Books on Leadership
What makes a good leader? Brené Brown, whose TED talk on vulnerability has over 30 million views, explores how to lead from a place of compassion and empathy in “Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.” She focuses on the different aspects of good leadership, including vulnerability (and why it’s not a weakness), courage (and why it’s important to be honest), upholding values (both at work and at home), and growing from failures and mistakes (and how to develop emotional resilience in times of stress).
Books on Building Culture
Co-authors Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy offer a visual exploration on how to better understand, express and manage your emotions in the workplace. In “No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work,” Fosslien and Duffy dispel the myth that emotions don’t belong in the workplace. Instead of looking at emotions as obstacles, they teach us how to use them to our advantage and turn them into assets that allow us to connect and empathize with others.
In “The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups,” Daniel Coyle examines what makes great teams work. Coyle identifies the three factors that help build a successful culture: safety, vulnerability, and purpose. On building a safe environment, he maintains that when teams feel safe and are not influenced by a “bad apple,” they perform better. On vulnerability, he emphasizes the importance of building connection and trust with one another, which brings teams closer together and breaks down barriers. On sharing a sense of purpose, he notes that a shared set of beliefs and values shape the team’s identity and culture and tells others what they stand for.
Books on Life
You’ve probably heard of it, but have you read it? “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” a bestseller by Dale Carnegie, is as relevant today as it was in the 1930s when it was originally published. Carnegie shares his timeless techniques on how to handle people, make them like you, win them over to your way of thinking, and be a leader.
How can introverts excel in a world created for extroverts? Susan Cain offers her perspective in “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” While we’ve seen the rise of extroverts in the workplace, Cain makes the case for the introverts who have quietly secured their places in the world. Introverts may have been undervalued in the past, but Cain challenges us to change our views of how the world see introverts and how introverts see themselves.