Reading List for Technical Leaders

By | August 22, 2018

People Skills

Jason Evanish writes at

The’s subheading reads: “A Blog About Leadership & Management Advice”. This is one of the places I regularly return to for ideas, inspiration, and solutions to a wide variety of topics under the banner of leadership and management. Jason encouraged me to become a 1:1 zealot, never missing or rescheduling 1:1s, always taking notes, and making them actionable. Go read his posts on 1:1 meetings. There’s a gold mine of content here.

Managing Humans by Michael Lopp

A printed collection of wisdom from his blog. This book is a quick and easy read as Lopp uses a mix of humor and keen insight from his experiences leading technical teams. His Leadership Slack is heavily subscribed with a ton of channels to choose from. Find the right channels (by geography or topic) and you’ll find a thriving community to join.

Radical candor by Kim Scott

“Radical Candor™ just means Care Personally AND Challenge Directly.”

I default to wanting to make people happy and liking me. Unfortunately, as a manager, that’s not always the best thing for your team. Sometimes your teams need to be challenged and pushed, given hard feedback, and advice. The key is to bring feedback from a place of support and truly wanting what is best for your teams, and then it is not you just being a jerk boss (again).

Understanding the Wider Business and System

High Output Management by Andy Grove

This is a classic from 1983 and still completely relevant for today. Andy Grove, the Intel CEO,  was way ahead of his time and this book is a bedrock on how to manage.

It starts by talking about process and soft boiled eggs(!) Then moves into a key description on the difference between a manager and individual contributor (hint: it’s multiplier effect). I’ve read this book 3 times and will likely read it again.

Good to Great by Jim Collins

Good to Great is a discovery of how good companies become great companies and why many don’t make it. Collins describes his research into elite companies that significantly financially outpaced their competitors and the market average. The findings include: Level 5 Leaders, The Hedgehog Concept, A Culture of Discipline, and The Flywheel and the Doom Loop.

The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni

The Advantage compares successful companies with mediocre ones. Drawing on his experiences as a consultant, Lencioni’s position is that organizational health is a key driver for health. He writes about alignment and unified culture, clarity, lack of politics, and and environment where star performers never want to leave.

Being Prepared for when S#&^ Hits the Fan

Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson

I’ve been in so many situations where a conversation turns crucial. You get that feeling on the back of your neck, the room gets tense, and suddenly feels like the heating jumped 10 or 20 degrees. Crucial Conversations is a journey from how to detect a conversation went crucial to what you should do next. Read it before you find yourself in a 1:1 with someone on your team and the heat is on.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

Lencioni gets on the list a second time with his book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. He shares this wisdom through a fictional story of a CEO trying to rebuild a team that is falling apart and taking the company with it. He reveals the five dysfunctions throughout the story (absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results) and provides insight into ways to address them.

To Read

The Manager’s Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change by Camille Fournier

I’ve heard many good things about this book so it’s on my list to read.

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher, William L. Ury, Bruce Patton

My default is to build consensus and diplomatically reach agreements. Sometimes you should not give ground just to reach agreement. So this is on my list to read (and improve upon).