The transition to tech leadership is a huge challenge. Technical leadership is different. Leading a technical team demands more than just management skills, but also technical prowess, and the ability to navigate the tech world. Working on a digital product, you need to understand how to lead your technical team, delivering high value for the users, while remaining agile and ready to change direction. This unique mix of senior engineer plus agile manager doesn’t come easy or naturally for anyone. It is not an easy task, but there’s plenty of help out there for you to get started. We’ve collected a few of the best tech leadership books, so you can dive in with the best chance of success. Remember, that learning is key to success in any leadership position. Being a tech leader requires skill, dedication, and knowledge, all of which need to be improved upon with new information. Books offer an amazing opportunity to delve deeply into topics. I hope you find our list of tech leadership books useful:
Tech Leadership books
1. The Manager`s Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change by Camille Fournier
Managing people is difficult wherever you work. But in the tech industry, where management is also a technical discipline, the learning curve can be brutal. In this practical guide, author Camille Fournier (tech lead turned CTO) takes you through each stage in the journey from engineer to technical manager. This book is ideal whether you’re a new manager, a mentor, or a more experienced leader looking for fresh advice. Pick up this book and learn how to become a better manager and leader in your organization.
2. Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager by Michael Lopp
Read hilarious stories with serious lessons that Michael Lopp extracts from his varied and sometimes bizarre experiences as a manager at Apple, Pinterest, Palantir, Netscape, Symantec, Slack, and Borland. He pulls no punches and tells stories he probably shouldn’t. But they are magically instructive and yield Lopp’s trenchant insights on leadership that cut to the heart of the matter―whether it’s dealing with your boss, handling a slacker, hiring top guns, or seeing a knotty project through to completion. You will learn how to lead engineers, handle conflict, hire well, motivate employees, manage your boss, discover how to say no, understand different engineering personalities, build effective teams, run a meeting well, scale teams.
3. INSPIRED: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan
In INSPIRED, technology product management thought leader Marty Cagan provides readers with a master class in how to structure and staff a vibrant and successful product organization, and how to discover and deliver technology products that your customers will love—and that will work for your business. With sections on assembling the right people and skillsets, discovering the right product, embracing an effective yet lightweight process, and creating a strong product culture, readers can take the information they learn and immediately leverage it within their own organizations—dramatically improving their own product efforts.
Whether you’re an early stage startup working to get to product/market fit, or a growth-stage company working to scale your product organization, or a large, long-established company trying to regain your ability to consistently deliver new value for your customers, INSPIRED will take you and your product organization to a new level of customer engagement, consistent innovation, and business success. Filled with the author’s own personal stories—and profiles of some of today’s most-successful product managers and technology-powered product companies, including Adobe, Apple, BBC, Google, Microsoft, and Netflix—INSPIRED will show you how to turn up the dial of your own product efforts, creating technology products your customers love.
4. Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams by Mickey W. Mantle, Ron Lichty Mantle
This book is a guide that will help you hire, motivate, and mentor a software development team that functions at the highest level. Their rules of thumb and coaching advice are great blueprints for new and experienced software engineering managers alike. In Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams, Mickey W. Mantle and Ron Lichty propose to make programmers and software teams manageable. That is, you need to begin by understanding your people―how to hire them, motivate them, and lead them to develop and deliver great products. Drawing on their combined seventy years of software development and management experience, and highlighting the insights and wisdom of other successful managers, Mantle and Lichty provide the guidance you need to manage people and teams in order to deliver software successfully. Whether you are new to software management, or have already been working in that role, you will appreciate the real-world knowledge and practical tools packed into this guide.
5. 97 Things Every Engineering Manager Should Know: Collective Wisdom from the Experts by Camille Fournier
Tap into the wisdom of experts to learn what every engineering manager should know. With 97 short and extremely useful tips for engineering managers, you’ll discover new approaches to old problems, pick up road-tested best practices, and hone your management skills through sound advice.
6. Team Topologies: Organizing Business and Technology Teams for Fast Flow by Matthew Skelton, Manuel Pais, Ruth Malan
Effective software teams are essential for any organization to deliver value continuously and sustainably. Team Topologies is a practical, step-by-step, adaptive model for organizational design and team interaction based on four fundamental team types and three team interaction patterns. It is a model that treats teams as the fundamental means of delivery, where team structures and communication pathways are able to evolve with technological and organizational maturity. Team Topologies is a major step forward in organizational design for software, presenting a well-defined way for teams to interact and interrelate that helps make the resulting software architecture clearer and more sustainable, turning inter-team problems into valuable signals for the self-steering organization.
7. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
Influence, the classic book on persuasion, explains the psychology of why people say “yes”—and how to apply these understandings. Dr. Robert Cialdini is the seminal expert in the rapidly expanding field of influence and persuasion. His thirty-five years of rigorous, evidence-based research along with a three-year program of study on what moves people to change behavior has resulted in this highly acclaimed book. You’ll learn the six universal principles, how to use them to become a skilled persuader—and how to defend yourself against them. The principles of Influence will move you toward profound personal change and act as a driving force for your success.
8. Becoming a Technical Leader: An Organic Problem-Solving Approach by Gerald M. Weinberg
Becoming a Technical Leader is a personalized guide to developing the qualities that make a successful problem-solving leader. The book emphasizes that we all contain the ingredients for leadership, though some elements are better developed than others. On one level, the book is an extremely down-to-earth, how-to guide. On a second, it is a set of parables, full of analogies that stick in the mind – the art of management taught through stories about pinball, tinkertoys, and electric blankets. This is a book about the philosophy and psychology of managing technical projects. On every level, the author brings these entertaining and enlightening elements together to teach you the essentials of leadership. You’ll learn how to master your fear of becoming a leader, be creative in solving problems, motivate people while maintaining quality, gain organizational power, plan personal change.
9. An Elegant Puzzle: Systems of Engineering Management by Will Larson
There’s a saying that people don’t leave companies, they leave managers. Management is a key part of any organization, yet the discipline is often self-taught and unstructured. Getting to the good solutions of complex management challenges can make the difference between fulfillment and frustration for teams, and, ultimately, the success or failure of companies.
Will Larson’s An Elegant Puzzle orients around the particular challenges of engineering management – from sizing teams to technical debt to succession planning – and provides a path to the good solutions. Drawing from his experience at Digg, Uber, and Stripe, Will Larson has developed a thoughtful approach to engineering management that leaders of all levels at companies of all sizes can apply. An Elegant Puzzle balances structured principles and human-centric thinking to help any leader create more effective and rewarding organizations for engineers to thrive in.
10. Become an Effective Software Engineering Manager: How to Be the Leader Your Development Team Needs by James Stanier
This book will share the secrets you need to know to manage engineers successfully. Going from engineer to manager doesn’t have to be intimidating. Engineers can be managers, and fantastic ones at that. Cast aside the rhetoric and focus on practical, hands-on techniques and tools. You’ll become an effective and supportive team leader that your staff will look up to. Start with your transition to being a manager and see how that compares to being an engineer. Learn how to better organize information, feel productive, and delegate, but not micromanage. Discover how to manage your own boss, hire and fire, do performance and salary reviews, and build a great team. You’ll also learn the psychology: how to ship while keeping staff happy, coach and mentor, deal with deadline pressure, handle sensitive information, and navigate workplace politics.
11. Mindset Revised And Updated: Changing The Way You think To Fulfil Your Potential by Dweck Dr S. Carol
World-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, in decades of research on achievement and success, has discovered a truly groundbreaking idea-the power of our mindset. With the right mindset, we can motivate teams to have higher results, as well as reach our own goals-personal and professional. Dweck reveals what all great leaders already know: how a simple idea about the brain can create a love of learning and a resilience that is the basis of great accomplishment in every area.
12. Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
Simon Sinek started a movement to help people become more inspired at work, and in turn inspire their colleagues and customers. Sinek starts with a fundamental question: Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike? Even among the successful, why are so few able to repeat their success over and over? People like Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers had little in common, but they all started with WHY. They realized that people won’t truly buy into a product, service, movement, or idea until they understand the WHY behind it. START WITH WHY shows that the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world all think, act, and communicate the same way – and it’s the opposite of what everyone else does. Sinek calls this powerful idea The Golden Circle, and it provides a framework upon which organizations can be built, movements can be led, and people can be inspired. And it all starts with WHY.
13. Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive by Charles Duhigg
Drawing on the very latest findings in neuroscience, psychology and behavioural economics, Charles demonstrates the eight simple principles that govern productivity. He demonstrates how the most dynamic and effective leaders deploy them. And he shows how you can, too.
14. Technology Strategy Patterns: Analyzing and Communicating Architectural Decisions by Eben Hewitt
Technologists who want their ideas heard, understood, and funded are often told to speak the language of business―without really knowing what that is. This book’s toolkit provides tech leaders with a shared language―in the form of repeatable, practical patterns and templates―to produce great technology strategies. Author Eben Hewitt developed 39 patterns over the course of a decade in his work as CTO, CIO, and chief architect for several global tech companies. With these proven tools, you can define, create, elaborate, refine, and communicate your architecture goals, plans, and approach in a way that executives can readily understand, approve, and execute.
15. The CTO ¦ CIO Bible: The Mission Objectives Strategies And Tactics Needed To Be A Super Successful CTO ¦ CIO by Rorie Devine
Rorie is the only person to have been featured on the cover of CIO Magazine twice, has held more than twenty interim and permanent CTO ¦ CIO roles and was awarded IT Leader of The Year by Computing magazine. In The CTO ¦ CIO Bible Rorie Devine covers everything you need to know to be a Super Successful CTO ¦ CIO with the odd bit of humour and more than 100 chunks of actionable insight.
I hope you found these Tech leadership books motivating and practical! And if you need any help with tech leadership, let us know! We have experienced tech leaders in our team!