Favorite Books I Learned the Most From in 2021 on Leadership and Inclusion — Sarah Scala Consulting

Sarah A Scala
6 min readNov 1, 2021

To support lifelong learning, I read A LOT of books, article, and blogs. In 2021, I set a goal to read 40 books annually. Reading, for me, includes reading a physical book or e-book, and also listening to audio books. In order to keep track of which books I have read, I keep a list in a Google docs spreadsheet. Between the years, it was common for me to request the same book from the library that I have read in the past, and the list heIps me to keep track of my reading. I also recommend books of interest in my monthly newsletter. To keep track of what I am learning through reading, I write notes inmy Evernote notebook that I can reference to use in the future (i.e. blog posts like this).

Here is my list of 10 books I learned the most from in 2021


I frequently read books about business and leadership because I often use the lessons in my consulting practice or when I am teaching leadership development for my clients.

The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World by Dorie Clark
I have read all of Dorie Clark’s books and follow her posts and interviews on social media. Dorie’s latest book helps the reader focus on the long term by cutting out things that are not necessary in the way we spend our days and weeks. As with all of her books, Dorie shares a free guide to apply the lessons shared in this book. As a small business owner beginning year number 10 of my business, I am looking at the long term plan, and what I hope to do next or continue doing.

Unleashed: The Unapologetic Leader’s Guide to Empowering Everyone Around You by Frances Freil and Anne Morriss
I became familiar with these authors when they spoke at the 2021 Lesbians Who Tech Conference. Frances is a professor at Harvard, and her wife Anne is a leadership consultant. Together they share the three “Wobbles of Trust” which include: Authenticity, Empathy, and Logic. Through their research and time supporting companies like Uber to create a more inclusive culture, they share that it is the job of all of us to make sure each one of us feels safe and welcome at work.

How the Way we Tallk Can Change the Way We Work: Seven Languages for Transformation by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey
In this book, Kegan and Leahy share how language has a impact on our ability to communicate and make changes. The book takes you through the 7 languages of transformation including: Complaint to Commitment, Blame to Personal Responsibility, New Year’s Resolutions to Competing Commitments: Diagnosing the Immunity to Change, Big Assumptions That Hold Us to Assumptions We Hold: Disturbing the Immunity to Change, Prizes and Praising to Ongoing Regard, Rules and Policies to Public Agreement, and Constructive Criticism to Deconstructive Criticism. The book shares cases in how these “languages” are applied at work and the results.

The B Corp Handbook, Second Edition: How You Can Use Business as a Force for Good by Ryan Honeyman and Tiffany Jana
As a consultant and coach to many B Corp businesses, including King Arthur Baking Company, Danone, and Stonyfield Farm, this book was suggested at the New England B Corp Leadership Conference that I spoke at this year. This second edition covers more in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, in addition to environmental and sustainability and economic and cultural benefits to operating as a certified B Corp.

My Life in Leadership: The Journey and Lessons Learned Along the Way by Francis Hesselbein
This was an excellent book that I listened to while cycling and traveling. Francis Hesselbein went from being a Girl Scout Troup Leader to the CEO of Girl Scouts, and her inspiring book shares stories, key lessons, and her history of meeting and working with influential leaders.

Anti-Racism / Social Justice/ Gender Equality

The more I work with folks in historically marginalized communities, the more I want and need to learn about their struggles and successes.

Look What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories About Racism by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar
I am a huge fan of Amber Ruffin, from her time as a writer on the Late Night with Seth Meyers show, to her more recent show, the Amber Ruffin Show. In this book, Amber and her sister Lacey share real stories about how racism has affected Lacey. The book made me laugh and cry. I appreciated this honest view on racism, and how it affects people everyday.

Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights by Kenju Yoshino
I heard Kenju Yoshino speak this year at Microsoft’s DEI Conference. His inspiring words led me to read his book. Although I am a member of the LGBT community, I was less familiar with the term “covering”. Covering can be used to hide gender, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or disability. This book shares that although we have the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws that prevent discrimination, people are still routinely denied equal treatment. The author also shares his personal story as a gay Asian American, and how he has navigated work and family life in the US.

The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table by Minda Harts
This book was eye opening for me as a white woman. This book is a career advice guide for women of color, and shares the odds stacked against these women: the wage gap, biases, and microagressions that are still common in today’s workplace in the US. The book also includes actionable key takeaways for the reader to apply.

Waking Up White: and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving
This book is about a white woman, born and raised in the wealthy community of Winchester, MA, who became a racial justice educator. The book shares how the author learned about her privilege, and her work towards building awareness and closing gaps for people of color. The book takes you through her journey to understand racism and racial tensions.

by Megan Rapinoe and Emma Brockes
Megan Rapinoe is one of my favorite female soccer players. Known for being a world champion athlete and Olympic gold medalist, as well as an activist fighting for social justice, Megan shares her life story in this book. Her memoir includes her history with soccer, being gay, and standing up for racial justice, LGBTQ justice, and equality. In addition to being a top athlete, Megan is also known for kneeling during the national anthem in support of NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who was removed from his team for kneeling in protest of racist police violence.

What books did you most enjoy in 2021? Leave a comment.


Check out my other blogs on recommended books for:

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About the Author:
Sarah Scala is a senior talent management leader and executive coach with 20+ years of experience providing organization development, change management, and leadership development solutions for diverse global and local industries. She is a collaborative consultant, coach, and educator supporting performance transformation of executives, leaders, and teams. Sarah is a methodical, results-driven leader recognized for helping clients reach their highest potential, increase revenue, reduce turnover, elevate business profitability, build competencies, and improve performance.

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Originally published at https://www.sarahscala.com on November 1, 2021.



Sarah A Scala

Sarah Scala is a certified woman and LGBTQ Business Enterprise, provides organization and leadership development, executive coaching, and LGBTQ+ coaching.