Leadership Book Recommendations

I’ve been asked to share some recommendations about books that I found helpful. The list below includes the ones that inspired and influenced me most and helped me succeed in my role and advance in my career.

  • Become an Effective Software Engineering Manager by James Stanier. This book is a treasure trove of helpful information about evolving one’s career from being an individual contributor to a people manager in a software engineering team. It’s the book I wished I had when I was first put in charge of supporting and leading a team. In James’ own words: “This book intends to help address the skills crisis by giving you the hands-on, practical management advice that you need. There’s no business fluff or leadership bravado here. You’ll find no anecdotes about the military, no heroics, no cheesy metaphors, and no talk of Stanford. This book is about the tools that you need — the actual skills to do the job. In the same way that you would turn to a book to learn a new programming language, this book is here to help you learn how to be a world-class manager.”
  • From Conflict to Courage by Marlene Chism. This book was an eye-opener for me. Workplace conflict isn’t the real problem; it’s how leaders handle it. They often mess up due to fear of emotions, lack of skills, or a bad workplace culture. To fix this, leaders need to get better at having tough conversations and not avoiding them. Marlene provides valuable methods for enhancing leadership clarity, recognizing challenges, and minimizing opposition.
  • The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier. The book provides a framework for effective coaching conversations, emphasizing the importance of asking powerful questions and listening actively to help individuals and teams achieve their goals. It introduces the concept of seven essential coaching questions that can be used to enhance coaching skills and improve leadership and communication. They encourage active listening, exploration of ideas, and a focus on solutions and personal growth.
  • Radical Candor by Kim Scott. In the book, Kim introduces a management philosophy that encourages leaders to balance caring personally for their team members and challenging them directly. This approach, which she calls “radical candor,” fosters a more open and productive work environment by providing honest feedback and fostering meaningful relationships. Kim also emphasizes the importance of continuous communication and feedback loops in achieving effective leadership and team dynamics. I realized that I am too often in the “ruinous empathy” quadrant when giving feedback, but I’m working on it!
  • Start with Why by Simon Sinek. This book has become somewhat of a classic. In it, Simon argues that successful individuals and organizations should begin by identifying and communicating their fundamental “why” or purpose. He argues that people are more inspired and motivated to follow leaders or support causes that align with a clear and compelling purpose rather than just focusing on the “what” or “how” of their actions. Simon is also a great speaker, so check out his YouTube talks!
  • Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek. In this book, Simon discusses the role of leadership in creating a safe and trusting environment within organizations. By using the concept of “eating last” as a metaphor for self-sacrifice, he emphasizes that leaders who prioritize the well-being and security of their teams can foster strong bonds, collaboration, and loyalty among their employees. Simon suggests that such leadership practices lead to more resilient and successful organizations.
  • The Culture Map by Erin Meyer. This book is valuable for anyone working in a multicultural environment or interested in improving cross-cultural communication and collaboration. It explores the concept of cultural differences in global business and communication. Erin presents a framework to help individuals and organizations understand and navigate cultural variations in the workplace. She identifies key cultural dimensions, such as communication styles, feedback preferences, and hierarchy, and provides practical insights on how to work effectively with people from different cultural backgrounds.
  • No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer. I posted a longer review of this book on this blog a while ago. In this book, Reed Hastings (co-founder and CEO of Netflix) and Erin explore the unique corporate culture and management philosophy that has contributed to Netflix’s success. They discuss Netflix’s unorthodox approach to HR policies, its emphasis on a high-performance culture, and its belief in employee freedom and responsibility. The book offers insights into how Netflix has disrupted the traditional corporate structure and offers lessons for other organizations looking to innovate in their approach to management and culture.

I hope you find these books useful, too!

What books can you recommend and why? I look forward to your suggestions.





2 responses to “Leadership Book Recommendations”

  1. Michele Bologna Avatar

    Good list, thanks for sharing!

    I would add:
    – The manager’s path by Camille Fournier
    – Managing humans by Michael Lopp

    1. lenz Avatar

      Thanks for sharing, Michele! Added to my list of books to read.