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Ask HN: Best book / resources on leadership, especially for tech teams?
882 points by learnaholic on Dec 5, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 209 comments
Although I know self help books are of little value, but wondering if any author has really nailed the topic? Would be even be better if the book is specific to tech leadership.

The US Army has an exceptionally well-crafted field manual on leadership. No fluff, but also no chest-thumping. It's honestly the best resource I've ever seen on what constitutes a good leader, how good leaders are developed, and how good leaders develop their teams.

Being a DOD publication, it's in the public domain: https://usacac.army.mil/sites/default/files/misc/doctrine/CD...

I can't stress enough how excellent it is.

I don’t have a reference available but the concept of ‘Mission Command’ used by the UK Army amongst others contains the best and most succinct description I’ve seen of how to delegate a task to a subordinate. And is perfectly suited to many civilian situations as well. From memory, and paraphrasing, it boils down to

State what you, as the leader, are trying to achieve, and why ('the big picture')

State what you want the subordinate to achieve

Define the resources available to the subordinate, and any constraints

Say how you want progress / issues to be reported

You don’t define how the subordinate should carry out the task – if they are competent and you trust them, they should be able to figure this out themselves.

[Edit] - the military distinction between command and control is also relevant to the civilian distinction between leadership and management. Paraphrasing slightly: Command is getting people to do something. Control is stopping them from doing something else.

This is actually addressed in a rather identical manner in _The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People_ by Stephen Covey. He talks about giving his son a task, outlining success and failure outcomes, and providing constraints and boundaries.

> You don’t define how the subordinate should carry out the task – if they are competent and you trust them, they should be able to figure this out themselves.

I would argue that this isn't always the case. When tasking a subordinate you should also consider where they fit in a matrix of competency and confidence. If they are competent and confident in their ability to carry out the task then what you described is fine. If they aren't competent I'd give them the task but keep a very close eye on progress and be ready to step in with feedback before things spiral out of control. If they're competent but lack confidence I'd probably have them walk through their plan with me first. This can help them feel more confident in the approach that they planned to take. If they are neither competent or confident in their ability to perform the task I'd question why they're being assigned it.

Totally agree - I should have unpacked 'trust' in more detail :-). It includes competence and confidence as you say, whether their experience is current or out-of-date, whether they have been trained by an organisation that you trust, and several other factors. If I was tasking someone who lacked any of these, I'd definitely want to keep an eye / mentor / etc.

The Mission Command concept actually stems from the German concept of auftragstaktik which was a contributing factor in their early successes during the Blitzkrieg campaigns early in WW2. See for example https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/how-germans-defined-au...

This is great. Would love to read a longer version from where this comes from.

There is a dedicated publication on mission command here https://usacac.army.mil/sites/default/files/misc/doctrine/CD...

It looks like there's a newer version (July 2019) available here: https://fas.org/irp/doddir/army/adp6_22.pdf

Brilliant. Thank you.

“Leadership is influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation while operating to accomplish the mission and improve the organization.”

I was taught a lot of bullshit in my Army days but the definition on the first page of that book is seared into my brain. It’s succinct and I still refer to it when evaluating myself and my efficacy as a leader. It’s a great little manual to start with, especially when most books on leadership are 90% marketing garbage.

This paragraph speaks to perhaps the most common mistake I see business leaders make, especially at startups:

"Because subordinates learn best by doing, leaders should be willing to take prudent risks and accept the possibility that less-experienced subordinates will make mistakes. Risk assessment and risk management help determine existing risks and mitigation strategies. If subordinate leaders are to grow and develop trust, it is best to let them learn through experience. Effective leaders allow space for subordinates to experiment within the bounds of intent-based orders and plans."

As a team lead I was completely surprised by the consequences of this. Most of the time when you indulge a junior engineer trying to stretch their wings they end up failing as you might expect. As long as they aren't going to throw a sprint completely out of whack, cause massive deadline slips or damage critical code modules I usually let them have at it, often with some boundary on the time I'm willing to allow them to make the attempt. My experience is that preventing someone from "scratching an itch" leads to them losing motivation very quickly. But the surprises are the successes. I've seen junior engineers pull off some extraordinary efforts resulting in objective improvements that positively affect the entire team. Those moments are among the most rewarding and memorable of leadership. I thought they were going to learn a lesson but they end up teaching me one about trust.

Good advice for parenting, too.

1-91. Everyone has an identity or a way they see themselves. Leaders internalize the roles, responsibilities, and actions that they understand of a leader to be, know, and do. Leaders who are unsure of themselves filling the role of a leader will be limited until they have confidence. Without a clear leader identity, others will question the type of leader they are, what they stand for, and the way they conduct themselves. What a leader believes about their role as a leader serves as a constant guide to behave as a leader of good character. Practice identifying as a leader—doing the right things in the right way—becomes habitual and helps junior personnel along the path to becoming seasoned, effective leaders.

"Small Unit Leadership" is also excellent and also from the US Army.

Good ones are also: "Duty" (Robert Gates) "Call Sign Chaos" (Mattis) "Extreme Ownership"

The one about Mattis has a very long list of book recommendations at the end.

Extreme Leadership is interesting if contrived. It clearly hones in on 2 qualities of leadership often overlooked: 1. Clear communication of desires and expectations, 2. Ownership of results, not of success. The stories will feel contrived to anyone who has read similar books as they seem constructed to prove a point instead of lived in.

I loved the SUL book, and it's on Audible too:


The military is an org that has a chain of command in which strict adherence to orders from your superiors is a question of life and death. I don't know if it's a good idea that managers in an office environment attempt to emulate the military.

As a former military leader, the ability to lead is built on a foundation of trust and competence prior to combat. The Army leadership manual is designed as a framework for developing those skills. The military just generally has a higher acceptance of risk up to and including the loss of life. In war, death is expected and factored into the decision making process. You would not see such risk taking in a corporate world. Strict adherence to orders in a life or death situation is required but often those orders are entirely reasonable.

Leading troops in combat is as much a tactical challenge as it is a logistical challenge. As cheesy as it sounds, leadership skills developed prior to and during combat are directly translatable to the corporate world. A great military leader is equally capable of being a great corporate leader. There is nothing specifically in the Army leadership style that could not be applied to a corporate setting.

There are certain things about military command structures that don't apply outside the military, sure.

But people are people, communication is communication and at the end of the day, regardless of what else they are, armed forces are large complicated organizations. It would be foolish to assume that because your organization(s) have different goals and mandates, they have nothing to learn about communication, leadership, training, etc. from decades (at minimum) of well documented armed forces experience.

Great point. Can you please indicate that you read it the linked text, and how the linked text emphasizes the criticisms you raise?

I understand where you're coming from, but realistically no one's going to read an over 100 page document for the purpose of commenting to hacker news. By the time they'd finished it, the thread would be dead for a long time.

From TFA:

> The principal audience for ADRP 6-22 is all leaders, military and civilian

You listen to Jocko podcast by any chance?

I listened to a few, maybe up to four, then I couldn't take it anymore, the war fetish just got too high. I think I hit the stop button for good when he said on the podcast how he "only read a book if it was about war". Don't get me wrong, the idead of owning up to the results of your team is great, but the constant high-intensity, treat-everything-in-life-as-if-you're-in-combat-and-you-have-to-crush-it mood seems too one-sided a view of leadership to take. The Army manual on leadership, on the other hand, I find very good.

Thank you that is great and very worth reading.

Something I've enjoyed as well which is a bit shorter and maybe quicker to digest is the chapter discussing leadership in the Art of Scalability https://www.amazon.co.uk/Art-Scalability-Architecture-Organi.... The authors have a military background no doubt influenced by DOD doctrine.

The Armed Forces Officer: Edition of 1950 is also excellent in this regard. Covers leadership and also personal career development. Many lessons for tech teams if you pay thoughtful attention. https://www.amazon.com/Armed-Forces-Officer-1950/dp/09883696...

"Serve to Lead" is the British Army's version. Unfortunately I don't think there is a PDF version available.


One user had shared a similar guide for British military few days ago. Haven't completed it. But it does seem promising.


Couldn't agree more. Read a couple of battle analysis by the USA army , which constantly compared decisions to what the decision should be accordingly to the USA army field manual to explain. You're absolutely right!

I'm reading through it and absolutely loving it so far. They're able to succinctly capture concepts I have had trouble defining.

Are there any specific parts you'll recommend? Or anything I should skip?

I'm glad you're finding it useful!

Regarding skipping, I can't recall anything that's counterproductive to read, but it's possible I skipped those parts, and, so, can't remember them. I wouldn't hesitate to jump into sections that seem especially relevant to your situation, and then jump back out.

In terms of parts to recommend, I thought Chapter 6 had especially practical/applicable content for me as a manager. Within that chapter, I felt that the "Counseling, Coaching, and Mentoring" section (beginning at section 6-52, through Table 6-3) is especially pertinent, as it laid out those particular roles and responsibilities far better than any of the internal resources I was given. The lines between those roles at startups are often muddy, if they're even laid out at all, and there's a lot of great work that senior engineers / tech leads can do to develop junior engineers they work with, outside the normal manager / IC dynamic.

Cannot download from Italy. "forbidden". Apparently only with Chrome (FF download properly)

What works in the "real" army is mentioned in counterproductive leadership in the book.

* Abusive behaviors—includes behaviors that involve a leader exceeding the boundaries of their authority by being abusive, cruel, or degrading others. These behaviors are contrary to what is required for the moral, ethical, and legal discharge of their duty. Specific examples include, but are not limited to, bullying, berating others for mistakes, creating conflict, ridiculing others because of the authority held, domineering, showing little or no respect to others, insulting or belittling individuals, condescending or talking down to others, or retaliating for perceived slights or disagreements.

* Self-serving behaviors—includes behaviors that result from self-centered motivations on the part of the leader, where they act in ways that seek primarily to accomplish their own goals and needs before those of others. Specific examples include, but are not limited to, displaying arrogance, lacking concern or empathy for others, taking credit for others' work, insisting on having their way, distorting information to favor own ideas, exaggerating accomplishments or abilities, putting own work and accomplishments ahead of others' and the mission, displaying narcissistic tendencies, or exhibiting a sense of entitlement.

* Erratic behaviors—includes behaviors related to poor self-control or volatility that drive the leader to act erratically or unpredictably. Specific examples include, but are not limited to, blaming others, deflecting responsibility, losing temper at the slightest provocation, behaving inconsistently in words and actions, insecurity, or being unapproachable.

* Leadership incompetence—includes ineffective leadership behaviors that result from a lack of experience or willful neglect. Incompetence can include failure to act or acting poorly. While incompetent leadership can arise from reasons unrelated to counterproductive leadership, it is included as a category often associated with arrogant or abusive leaders who are not aware of their shortcomings and do not seek to correct their shortcomings. Conversely, some leaders lacking competence are aware of their shortcomings, which lead them to behave in counterproductive or negative ways to cover up their shortcomings or mistakes. Specific examples include, but are not limited to, unengaged leadership, being passive or reactionary, neglecting leadership responsibilities, displaying poor judgment, poorly motivating others, withholding encouragement, failing to clearly communicate expectations, or refusing to listen to subordinates.

* Corrupt behaviors—includes behaviors that violate explicit Army standards, regulations, or policies. Violations may range from behaviors subject to administrative discipline to criminal actions subject to discharge or incarceration. Specific examples include, but are not limited to, dishonesty, misusing government resources or time, creating a hostile work environment, EEO/SHARP violations, or violating Section 3583 (Requirement of Exemplary Conduct), Title 10, United States Code, AR 600-100, or the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The best book on leadership IMO is the Tao Te Ching, Ch. 17.

It's very short, about ten lines, but it contains all that you need to know. The final verse, especially, destroys or subsumes pretty much all concepts of leadership.







But that's only the "what", and not the "how", no?

Bit like if someone asks you to teach them to paint and you show them a Monet and go "like that!", yeah.

There are plenty of books mentioned here that have great tactics and strategy already. The Tao is more like the "Alpha and Omega" of wisdom.

Consider a kind of hierarchy:

Most of the other books mentioned here are generally talking about the lower three levels with some attention to Values, whereas the Tao Te Ching spends most of its verses on the upper two levels.

The translations were a little tough to get through but here's a transcript of the best one:

"...The best leaders are those the people hardly know exist.

The next best is a leader who is loved and praised.

Next comes the one who is feared.

The worst one is the leader that is despised.

If you don’t trust the people,

they will become untrustworthy.

The best leaders value their words, and use them sparingly.

When she has accomplished her task,

the people say, “Amazing: we did it, all by ourselves!”

- J H McDonald (Trans.)

Concise, yet so powerful. Thanks for sharing


Everything by Simon Sinek, but most important for me is "Leaders Eat Last" [0]. I haven't read the last one (The Infinite Game), but I've heard it's pretty good as well.

Also Extreme Ownership [1] and Dichotomy of Leadership [2] by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.

All of these books had tremendous impact on me as a leader and I highly recommend them.

[0]: https://www.amazon.com/Leaders-Eat-Last-Together-Others/dp/B...

[1]: https://www.amazon.com/Extreme-Ownership-U-S-Navy-SEALs-eboo...

[2]: https://www.amazon.com/Dichotomy-Leadership-Balancing-Challe...

I must have missed something, seeing extreme ownership praised so much but I stopped reading it after a chapter or so. The whole macho thing didn’t jive and I’m struggling to find parallels to ordinary life. Lives aren’t at stake for 99.9999% of work out there. The whole military hierarchy and all the idealization doesn’t exist in normal contexts. Leaders aren’t trusted implicitly always or “lives are at stake”. So how does it translate??

Perhaps my view is tainted having been through mandatory military service, and hated every minute of it. But I guess I simply “don’t get it”

Extreme ownership is not about the pressure of having to deal with "lives on the line".

It is primarily about owning responsibility yourself, and not externalizing blame. Even CEO and CTOs are prone to deflecting blame when there's politics and external parties involved.

All of the case studies show how managers suffer from defense mechanisms and logical fallacies that are harmful rather than helpful.

It also talks about the dangers of operating in a high complexity environment and the need to develop an understandable and legible method of communication.

* He says that leaders aren’t trusted implicitly in the Seal teams either, btw, and it's part of the job of the leader to build rapport with their teams, sell them on the plan, and make sure everyone understands the higher intent, if the team is really to be effective rather than dysfunctional. (this comes later in the book).

The war stories are what folks seem to focus on here, but I feel those are there mostly for entertainment, in addition to an example of the underlying value it's trying to demonstrate.

That said, the book really boils down to continual repetition of a few core points over and over. That may be necessary to drive the relatively few points home, with even fewer actually changing their behavior.

This is deliberately not an academic-level treatise on leadership. It is a challenge to accept the most fundamental challenges of responsibility - how many managers have you met which fail to do that?

Veteran here as well and Sinek annoys the hell out of me. If it’s the first and only book you’ve read on leadership then maybe some of the points are helpful, but I find it to be mostly self-absorbed superficial garbage that business majors flock to five minutes after graduating.

It’s the leadership equivalent of that Not Giving a Fuck book.

Corporate business leaders here in America tend to be obsessed with trying to apply military-style terminology and doctrines to their business. In their minds, business is war, and "lives are at stake" gets translated to either "jobs are at stake" or "revenue is at stake," depending on the person. There are so many war-isms in business it's impossible to list them all. "In the trenches," "boots on the ground," framing sales territories as battlegrounds...

In short, these things sell because American business leaders fetishize these sort of ex-SEAL types.

It's all a little much for me. Not to mention unfortunate, because the sort of leadership that works best in the military is decidedly not the sort of leadership that works best in business. The military demands that soldiers immediately and unquestioningly follow commands given by their superiors (particularly during combat). Lives are literally at stake, so any hesitation for even a moment could spell doom.

Meanwhile, in business, I strongly believe leaders need to be in more of a team-servant role -- yes, motivating, providing vision, etc., but also cultivating a sense of "your voice matters," if that makes sense. Being a 'force multiplier' in business requires a different mentality than in war zones.

> The military demands that soldiers immediately and unquestioningly follow commands given by their superiors (particularly during combat).

This doesn't jive with my understanding of US military (or human nature). Out of combat, a top-down command and control hierarchy leads to poor decision making by troops on the ground. A general can't and shouldn't make decisions on day-to-day operations at the platoon-level.

In combat, certainly the stakes are higher, and lives are on the line. If anything, that means trust plays MORE of a role than hierarchy. If a leader I don't trust tells me to do something that seems wrong and reckless enough to get me killed, I'm not going to do it. I'd rather get court martialed back home than die in the dirt. It's all about trust. If the leader has earned trust, I'll know that they have the bigger picture, and what seems wrong to me now makes sense in some way I can't see from where I am. And of course, it's not all black and white, these are matters of degree, including measuring the desperation and force in the tone of an order.

See for example Team of Teams by General Chrystal--which is also a good book about organization/business generally.

+1. Team of Teams is a great intro to leadership for tech. General Chrystal identifies the distinction between complicated and complex areas and shows best practices for dealing with complexity (it's not just a semantic argument but actually something substantial, where tech leaders generally deal with complex problems and not complicated problems).

Is it an easily communicated difference?

Yes. Complicated means lots of moving pieces but predictable. Complex means lots of components that are far less predictable.


> The military demands that soldiers immediately and unquestioningly follow commands given by their superiors (particularly during combat).

I don't think the way you've phrased this is quite accurate, although I understand what you're getting at.

In the book the author discusses how it is the responsibility of leaders to plan missions and to ensure that all voices and concerns are heard during planning. It's also the leader's responsibility to ensure that a decision about how to proceed is reached. Once a decision is reached though the expectation is that it will be carried out without question (I don't have any quotes handy unfortunately).

This sounds awfully similar to Amazon's principle of disagree and commit. I think this principle is congruent with the way the way the book suggests that leaders should operate.

From my own personal experience I think this is actually a really important principle. I find nothing more frustrating in a team environment than when one member of the team disagrees with a decision and decides to take it upon themselves to head off in their own chosen direction. It's very frustrating to have team members not following a plan.

> In their minds, business is war

Relevant David Brent quote:

"Does a struggling salesman start turning up on a bicycle? No, he turns up in a newer car - perception, yeah? They got to trust me - I’m taking these guys into battle, yeah? And I’m doing my own stapling."

I agree /lives/ aren’t directly at stake, but depending on what your business is, /livelihoods/ are.

When you’re an entrepreneur and have a small team, each of them may have a family. As the leader you are responsible for running a profitable company that can pay its employees so their families can eat.

At the large company I work for my team’s product is B2B. When we go down, other businesses go down. The number of people affected is very high. Treating every incident like someone’s business is dependent on you and they have put their trust in you to support them is very sobering.

Simon Sinek has never actually led anything and is basically someone who is an expert at marketing himself. His advice doesn’t say anything new and is usually extremely banal.

He’s the classic example of fake it till you make it in modern America. A guy who makes flashy viral videos, has zero actual experience of leading organizations or teams, yet someone has acquired some guru like reputation at a genius leader.

I wholeheartedly agree. A great example of marketing fluff content.

Still, a great example of marketing and proof that fluff sells and is probably useful for many.

> Simon Sinek has never actually led anything and is basically someone who is an expert at marketing himself.

Taking him at his word on several of his talks, he leads a team right now. Presumably one focused on advancing your second point: his marketing of himself.

> His advice doesn’t say anything new and is usually extremely banal.

The corollary being they’re banal to you, cue tangential XKCD: https://www.xkcd.com/1053/

Note I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you. He also seems to me like someone who teaches what he learned by theory, not practice. However, I do believe his intentions are genuine, that he wants to make the workplace better for everyone, and that his points are actionable and positive. Contrast that to someone like Tony Robbins, which I view as little more than a scammer that wants to trick you into thinking anyone can be successful at anything if they just believe in themselves and pay him hefty sums to attend his seminars.

Ok, where's your book so I can read and compare?

I've never directed a movie but I'm not allowed to say that Dumb and Dumber 2 is a terrible movie? Your logic makes no sense.

I've read well and deeply across a broad spectrum of classic philosophy and psychology and I think Simon Sinek is a dilettante and basic thinker. I'm allowed to have that opinion regardless of whether I have written books or not.

Already been said a few times, but just feel like I had to add again for added emphasis. Extreme Ownership is the best book on Leadership I have ever read. Changed my thinking forever.

Extreme ownership is awesome.

I'm typically a Simon Sinek fan but (The Infinite Game) left a poor taste in my mouth.

I had just finished (Finite and Infinite Games) by James P. Carse. He normally does a great job distilling information from mulitple sources, but in this case it seemed like he added nothing, condensed nothing, and in my opinion came really close to just rewriting the first 1/2 of someone else's book and calling it a new thing.

I'm not calling it plagiarism, he's obviously too smart to cross that line. But if you read the books you will see what I mean.

Simon Sinek is a charismatic speaker with good points and interesting stories, but I find his books full of fluff: a central thesis padded to the length of a book so it’s publishable.

You get the same information by watching videos of his talks, with the advantage they are free, more direct, and take less of your time. Plus, they’re released sparingly and have quite a bit of repetition with slow changes between them, so the points get to sink in over time.

The Infinite Game is also great. The focus is on building companies that last hundreds of years, so you need leadership, culture and investors that are all about long term stability over keeping sort term investors happy. There are some rants, but nothing I disagree with!

Leaders Eat Last was one of the best books I read this year. Extreme Ownership was also quite good but Simon really explains the “Why” of leadership that most books are missing. High-Output Management is another classic.

I understand the “why” of leadership very well, but as a high-functioning autistic person, I struggle very much with the “how”, especially around communication.

Like - for all possible values of X, if X is what I want someone to do, how do I communicate that so people (a) understand that I want X from them and (b) aren’t offended and understand that it is meant kindly/charitably (which it really is, I often just don’t know how to say so without sounding weird or changing the value of X).

Here’s a small example scenario from home life: my son was crying in his room. I was in the middle of something but wanted to take care of him and let my wife rest. She got up and started down the hall. I said “I was going to get it” expecting her to say “OK” and come back. Instead she sighed and did it anyway, and later said she felt frustrated that I made an excuse instead of either taking action or not. I explained to her what I wanted and asked what I should have said instead, and she said to say “Please stop. I’ve got this.” Next time I said that instead, and was amazed how different her response was - she was happy/grateful to let me take cars of it.

I guess I need a book full of “scripts” that would help me communicate both text and subtext accurately. Any resource suggestions?

This is not a book full of "scripts," but will hopefully help inform future actions:

The "Please stop. I've got this." is an action-oriented message that is conveyed before the action. It says "I would like for you to do X because of Y." It is conveyed in an imperative structure, which is used for a command or a request. "Please stop." <- request. "I've got this." <- followed by a rationale for your request. The request is conveyed first, followed by the rationale for why you are making it. "Do this. Here is why." The "I've got this" also carries succinct subtext of "I agree with you that our son crying is a problem that someone should take care of, I just think it should be me instead of you."

Conversely, when you say "I was going to get it," it is a declarative message rather than an imperative message. It does not tell your wife what you would like for her to do. It is merely additional data that does not help her make better decisions, which means it is mostly useless for her. An extreme comparative example is looking at a person who has just burned their hand at the stove and then saying "that stove appears hot."

Humans don't like to receive an array of "reasons" data before they've received the "request." We don't like statements in the form of "because of Y, Z, A, B, C... please do X." Our subconscious can typically detect that we are receiving a stream of "reasons" and we are starting to brace for the "request" (because the request might be unpleasant).

People like to know what others expect of them. Your comment says you would like to know what your wife expects of you. When you follow the <command> <rationale for command> order of operations you are giving people what they want (what you expect of them) followed by your reason for wanting that. When you go in the opposite order, you are conveying the converse: "I want something of you but I haven't told you what it is yet."

This is probably some of the most helpful advice I've ever received. I think it will be challenging (and scary) to learn to use imperative requests instead of declarative statements. Thank you so much for helping me understand and speaking my language!

Thank you. I'm sorry I can only upvote this once.

I feel you. I think you'd like Good Authority. Very concrete and actionable on all kinds of management practice:


If you're looking for office communications, I've heard good things about "Difficult Conversations":


"I was going to get it" is past tense. Using past tense for something can imply that it's something that was true in the past, but not now.

This can irritate people because it comes off as trying to claim credit for intent to do the task without actually doing it.

While "Please stop. I've got this" is the best phrasing because its what your wife has requested as well as what the other commenter stated, I imagine you would have still got a fine result if you used present or future tense. "I"m getting it" or "I'll get it".

Tenses, and other grammar on their level, is definitely something you will be able to find scripts for.

- High-Ouput Management - Five Disfunctions of a Team - The Goal - Principles by Ray Dalio - Good Profit by Charles Koch

All of the books above cover some aspect of what you want but don’t seem to cover the whole picture. Further, a lot of it comes down to shared mental models. If you are coming from the perspective of action taking then the other person also assumes that you will take the action. I think Leader Eat Last explains this brilliantly and actually significantly changed the way I am trying to approach leadership as well as how I work with other people in general.

Hi Tim, this had happened to me a lot before I finally realized that effective communication comes after good emotion. Try listening and talking about her emotions and feelings, and then communicate the subjects. I believe there may be "full of script book", but I doubt that gonna help you. Cheers,


I can’t handle the level of repetition. You read one chapter and you’ve read the entire book. It could literally just be a bumper sticker - ‘real leaders eat last’ - ok got your thesis

That is unfortunately most Simon Sinek material for me. I think he is a super sharp thinker, but I always come away feeling like his books could have been a blog post and his blog posts could have probably been a tweet.

simon sinek is a motivator, and had no experience in leadership

Most books on leadership give principles and science, which don't hurt to know, but leading is a practice -- an active, social, emotional, expressive, performance-based field.

We learn to perform by practicing the basics in any field.

Leadership Step by Step https://www.amazon.com/Leadership-Step-Become-Person-Others/... gives a set of 20 exercises that teach the basics of leading yourself and others. If you practice, you'll develop the skills, experiences, and beliefs of an effective leader. Other books are like music appreciation. This book is like learning to play the piano.

Written by a PhD in physics (me) then started several companies, got an MBA, and teaches leadership at NYU to stellar reviews. http://joshuaspodek.com/reviews-leadership-step-step

Leadership Step by Step: https://www.amazon.com/Leadership-Step-Become-Person-Others/...

Self promotion usually rubs me the wrong way, but judging from this excerpt, your book looks like it's well worth reading:


Thank you. I appreciate your suspending judgment enough to research it.

If you read it, I hope you'll share your thoughts on it, especially if you do the exercises.

Try "The Manager's Path" by Camille Fournier.


Agreed, I particularly like the way each chapter dealt with a rank further up. Even if you have _no intention_ of going higher, seeing what they want from you and what they should be doing was immensely helpful and clarifying.

Also highly recommend this. Unlike some other books, it's highly tailored towards being a leader at a tech startup, and has great, specific advice. It's also broken down by chapter, so you can read the bits that are relevant for your role.

Having read many of the books recommended here, I found this one to be the most concretely useful of the bunch. No fluff, just solid advice from someone that went from engineer to CTO.

I read both this and "The Making of a Manager", and I've got to say, "The Making of a Manager" has much better advice and is a lot easier to act on than what Manager's Path gives.

I think the primary difference is what point in their careers the book was written. Julie wrote the book early in her career while Camille has been in upper management for some time meaning that she's more distant from the challenges of becoming a first time manager.

And despite Julie's only experience being at Facebook, I still found the advice widely applicable.

Seconded, this is a great book.

I think all non-managers should read it as well as it will give you some clarity on what you should expect from your manager and what their day-to-day is like.

I would also advise this one. I appreciate the section enumerating the roles that the VP of Engineering and the CTO share/split.

+1 excellent book

Seconding this

Extreme Ownership https://www.amazon.com/Extreme-Ownership-U-S-Navy-SEALs-eboo...

How to Win Friends and Influence People https://www.amazon.com/How-Win-Friends-Influence-People-eboo...

The Phoenix Project https://www.amazon.com/Phoenix-Project-DevOps-Helping-Busine...

Don't worry about "tech specific". Core leadership principles are universal. The first two books on the list show the principles, and the mindset you should approach them with to be successful.

The 3rd book will help set the tone for leading in a modern tech environment, and what kind of business decisions you should prioritize.

The third book is also good for bragging at work about devops.

When managing people in tech, I think it is equally as important to know how to organize as it is to know how to lead. I would recommend "The Phoenix Project" and "The Unicorn Project" and "The Goal" to all tech managers.

No matter how good your communication/leadership skills are, your team will be severely handicapped if they are working in an inefficient/limiting environment.

Coming at the same lessons from a different perspective, I have also found "Turn The Ship Around!" to be a very good resource.

"Turn the Ship Around!" has been awesome resource for our team, most definitely recommend

> I would recommend "The Phoenix Project" and "The Unicorn Project" and "The Goal" to all tech managers.

Goldratt's "The Goal" and its sequels are interesting reading, but please, please internalize the principles he was arguing from for the theory of constraints before trying to apply it to software. Otherwise you end up with "The Pheonix Project" (whose author is apparently making a nice living as a snake oil process consultant, according to friends who have dealt with his appearance in companies) which is the "software factory" mess of the 1980's rewarmed and shoved out the door again. Rather, go read Deming's "The New Economy" (just ignore the section on intrinsic/extrinsic motivation).

I'm not really following your criticisms on The Phoenix Project... Can you elaborate?

I didn't attempt to make a detailed criticism. Basically, it's the naive application of Goldratt's "The Goal" to IT. People have been trying to model IT processes on manufacturing for decades. Still doesn't work. The opinion of several engineers that I respect very highly who suffered from the author's consulting services makes me discount his work entirely.

If you read farther in Goldratt, the sequels to "The Goal", he refines the notion of constraints in very interesting ways that leave the factory floor. I don't think the author of the Phoenix Project ever got that.

Goldratt is excellent for optimising processes with well defined goals.

This is ofen true in business software.

If you want to optimise a learning process, The Principles of Product Development Flow is more relevant.

The two books (The Goal vs The Principles of Product Development Flow) give very different, seemingly opposite advice.

Would you mind expanding on how your friends suffered? What went wrong etc. Sounds interesting.

I haven't done a detailed debrief with them, so I can pass on an opinion and experience that I respect, but I can't expand without conjecturing.

Any of the classic books of the late Jerry Weinberg is full of wisdom. Oldies but goldies. Leanpub has all of them: https://leanpub.com/u/jerryweinberg

There's the People Skill bundle: https://leanpub.com/b/peopleskillssoftbutdifficult with the books: Are Your Lights On?, What Did You Say? The Art of Giving and Receiving Feedback, Exploring Requirements One, Exploring Requirements Two, Becoming a Change Artist, More Secrets of Consulting, and Becoming a Technical Leader

But maybe the better for you are his classic The Psychology of Computer Program (to understand the mind of programmers) https://leanpub.com/thepsychologyofcomputerprogramming

Becoming a Technical Leader (to grow to a leadership position) https://leanpub.com/becomingatechnicalleader

Managing Teams Congruently (to manage groups) https://leanpub.com/managingteamscongruently

Thanks for those links, I will check out a number of those. Weird I've never heard about him before, impressive number of books.

Maybe because he is from the pre-internet era. The tech parts are dated, but since he sees people as the center of the problems, it doesn't matter much. Any of his books will give you a year of blog posts.

Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink & Leif Babin

This book is about the lessons learned on leadership by two Navy Seal Officers and how they are applied in business. It learned me to take ownership on what is happening, always work together, keep it simple, focus on a single priority, and give ownership.

Turn the ship around! by L. David Marquet

This book tells the story of a submarine captain that turns his subordinates into leaders and his submarine goes on becoming the best submarine in the US Navy. It learned me to move authority to information, train competence, and the power of clear communication.

You can find more good books at https://www.norberhuis.nl/books/

+1 Turn the ship around! by L. David Marquet

I think this is a more complicated question that it first appears. What do you mean by leadership? Getting things done for some strict definition? Managing a team? Managing a huge enterprise? I think reading books across the spectrum of leadership and management is critical, as each gives you some feeling of the underlying “truth” that you’re trying to find.

I think the best book on the topic as I think you mean it is High Output Management by Andy Grove. It’s a classic. Incredibly well written. Direct.

From there, I’d actually take a pivot and read MCDP 1 Warfighting, which is concise, brilliant, generally applicable, and completely aligned with the thinking of Grove. Along the same lines, I’d consider reading about OODA (I like “Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War” but not strictly necessary to read an entire biography). I think then you start to see that “Management” began to mean something particular in the post-war era for those who could see it, that it’s been lost in most organizations. Agile, lean, blah blah blah is all sort of derived from here.

Then get some conditioning on how it all goes wrong, for which I would suggest the classic “The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering”, which is generally applicable.

Then personally, I era toward thinking about organizations that have accomplished great things, so suggest “Creativity, Inc”, “Doing the Impossible: George E. Mueller & the Management of NASA's Human Spaceflight Program”, and books of those type.

Excellent book! Adding Managing Humans to that.


I concur! Just finished MH and really enjoyed it.

Highly recommended. 100% agree with the "emotional part" and "engineers hate wasting time... DUE TO YOU" haha. A mind changer to me.

Agreed, Peopleware is great. Very good for engineering leadership specifically.

+100 for peopleware.

IMHO, the best one.

The best definition of what's a good leader is found in the book "the captain class" : https://www.amazon.com/Captain-Class-Hidden-Behind-Greatest/...

What's interesting is that the author have a data oriented strategy to find a good definition of a leader: he processed a lot of data to find which teams had really exceptionnal success IN THE HISTORY OF ALL SPORTS.

When he found the 8 teams with the most exceptionnal success, he looked for what they share. He found that all of those exceptionnal team success coincide with the arrival and departure of a captain.

Then he looked for shared trait between all those captain. What he found is the best definition of a leader.

I am definitely going to read this!

You won't regret it ;)

hardbook starting from 899$, I think I'll get the 10$ kindle :D

The best management book I read this year was "The Making of a Manager" by Julie Zhou [1]. The book is concise, clearly written and actionable. It's specifically written for first time managers and the author is a design lead at Facebook.

[1]: https://www.amazon.com/Making-Manager-What-Everyone-Looks/dp...

+100 for this book. Absolutely amazing.

Thanks for sharing! Julie is amazing!

A few recommendations from me and peers in my company who highly value some of the following:

- "Managing Humans" by Michael Lopp very insightful and easy to read.

- "Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations" by Dr Nicole Forsgren brings a long research on how to organize teams for success.

- "The Manager's Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change" by Camille Fournier which I especially recommend for new managers.

Lastly, and this time not tech-specific, but by far my best read of 2019: "Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley's Bill Campbell" written by Eric Schmidt & others.

High Output Management by Andy Grove, Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink & The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz would be my top 3.

I'm sad to have to scroll down so far to see High Output Management. Timeless principles that boil down the ABCs of being an effective manager. No bells and whistles. This is a must-read for any new manager.

Hard Thing About Hard Things is amazing. I've given this book to two people and both shared stories with me about how incredible it was.

It depends on what your definition of "leadership" is - personally I found "Managing Humans" by Michael Lopp to be really insightful. It's really more a collection of anecdotes than a seminal work on the topic, but I think there's a bunch of good components in understanding team dynamics around technical / software engineering teams.

It's years since I read it but Gerald Weinberg's Becoming a Technical Leader. The best general book on leadership I've read for a while is Marquet's Turn the Ship Around – great also as an audiobook. I referenced the latter in my own Right to Left: The digital leader's guide to Lean and Agile (arguably a leadership book too)

'If you are a good leader,

Who talks little,

They will say,

When your work is done,

And your aim fulfilled,

“We did it ourselves.”'

- Lao Tse, quoted in 'Becoming a Technical Leader'

I heartily second 'Becoming a Technical Leader.' The exercises there are designed to get you to think about and grow in the situation that you are currently in, so the book will be a perennial.

I'd add that Weinberg also produced a four-volume series, 'Quality Software Management', where he sums up all he learned about project management in his programming, management and consulting careers. He later republished the material in a series of smaller eBooks [0] at LeanPub.

I know of no better written resources for people who want to learn to manage software development in a way that accomplishes the technical tasks while respecting the people who do the work.

[0] https://leanpub.com/b/qualitysoftware

Upvoted. Also by Weinberg, The Secrets of Consulting.

Leading Snowflakes is written specifically for new engineering managers. In my opinion, it nails it: https://leadingsnowflakes.com/

Unlike many books on leadership, this one is specific about the challenges of leading a technical team:

  * Carving out maker vs manager time

  * "Code reviewing" your management decisions with your teammates

  * How to delegate without losing visibility or quality

I run Developer to Manager (https://devtomanager.com), where we interview tech leaders and ask them for advice they have for someone new to this field.

I'm of course biased, but I do feel it's turning out to be a good resource. Feedback is always welcome!

Creativity, Inc. [1] It's not a textbook but a really fun read for the inside stories that pushed Pixar to its success. Maybe it's just me personally but I found it hard to follow some syllabus to learn management --- instead, I enjoy being inspired by other great managers through their concrete stories.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FUZQYBO/

This was an amazing read. Ed Catmull explains many nuanced aspects of leadership, management, creative organizations, and related. All of these lessons are wrapped into the personal history and narrative surrounding Pixar, which is fascinating in its own right.

I'm reading High Output Management by Andy Grove at the moment. Definitely one of the best practical guides on being a leader and a people manager I've ever read.

"Manager tools" and "career tools" podcasts have been eye-openers for me about corporate relationships and management politics.

I think "Team Geek" [0] is probably worth a mention in this light.

It's written in that infuriating cutesy techy-language that seems to infuse a lot of the "hipper" books of this genre but there really is some good advice in there.

FYI these are the guys that did Subversion, which was a pretty successful project for a while, back in the day. This same writing style pervades the SVN docs as well. Yeuch.

In the same vein, I also enjoyed "rework" by Jason Fried [1] though that's more about modern work, than purely management. Also kind of "hip" in style, but not so insufferable ;-)

[0] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14514115-team-geek

[1] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6732019-rework

> infuriating cutesy techy-language

Happy to see I'm not the only curmudgeon around here. I'd say this trend is at its most loathsome when employed by big corporates - it's as if everyone is so terrified of being mischaracterised as old or uncool (daddio) that noone is willing to point out how facile, affected and obnoxious this type of language is.

Yes, totally agree.

Imho one of the best books out there on the topic.

Also: “The Hard Thing About Hard Things”

Beyond managing teams, you probably will need to cope with politics as well. “The 48 Laws of Power” are a good start...

It is also worth understanding how asymmetry works in the business world: give Taleb’s “Antifragile”

I think managing teams has always to be seen in the culture of the respective company. Good managers make sure they position their teams for high-impact (depending on what high impact is), get the resources they need and the credit they deserve. All that has almost 0 to do with how to lead people but will probably determine success like no other factor...

FYI the most recent edition of the book has a new title 'Debugging Teams: Better Productivity through Collaboration'.

The Great CEO Within (great for non-CEO leaders too). Free here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ZJZbv4J6FZ8Dnb0JuMhJxTnw...!

Turn The Ship Around!: A True Story of Building Leaders by Breaking the Rules


HN post about this book recently: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21662941

Extreme Ownership is an excellent book on the topic (or so peoole tell me, I started reading it today actually).

It is. It is also filled with gratuitous disregard for human life and cruelty towards animals. But that's what war is about, and having a book about military leadership without actual examples of conflict would be kind of vacuous.

And the dichotomy of leadership.

This is a little bit out-of-left field. But I'd recommend the classic Foreign Policy essay "Why Arabs Lose Wars". On the surface it's obviously about military doctrine, and how it's affected the various conflicts in recent Middle Eastern history.

But fundamentally its about management culture, and what factors distinguished well-run organizations from dysfunctional ones.

[0] https://www.meforum.org/441/why-arabs-lose-wars

This isn't specifically about tech, but The Culture Map by Erin Meyer is really worth reading.

I'm not 100% sold on it being correct, but it does give you a framework to think within when you're working with other people, no matter which culture you're from.

Forbes have a decent write-up:


Question is, do you want a book about the input factors to how people end up leading, or one on evaluating the output effects of other leaders against?

Leadership is not an activity or an action you can mimic, it it is an effect. Most books are the stories people tell afterwards about how virtuous they were and they call that leadership. Jeffery Pfeffer says this specifically as well.

Pfeffers books on management provide the insight into the dynamics leadership emerges from. His triad of, "performance, credentials, and relationships," that describe power in a situation also describe the necessary factors we look back on as leadership.


I like Jocko Willnick's whole attitude about ownership, respect, delegation, and working with people to leverage their skills to achieve outcomes. He says the hierarchy in the military isn't as much of a factor as how you relate to your team and the world, but I suspect Pfeffer would disagree in that its hierarchy and training culture provides the credential piece in his triad, where in business, that's more dynamic.

There are lots of good books about leadership, but reading them without having read Pfeffer's "Power.." is exploring the territory without the map, imo.

I found "An Elegant Puzzle: Systems of Engineering Management" by Will Larson quite good for advice on practical management challenges one comes across in technology companies.

"Extreme Ownership" by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. I highly recommend the audiobook, it is narrated by the authors and is very engaging.

Some of the comments in this thread say that military orders and life and death situations don't apply in the business world. But that isn't what this book is about, the advice is really the opposite of giving orders the must be followed without question. And the lessons are explained in ways that clearly relate to business management.

I've been a team lead for close to four years now in two different companies, both times my teams spanned multiple time zones!

I really enjoy this subject and read a lot about it. My favorite books so far are:

- Radical Candor -- Gives a great framework for candid conversations and empathy which IMO are the most important thing! Clear #1 in my list.

- Leading by Alex Ferguson -- A great successful leader in another area - Soccer - that had many years building effective teams. It's incredible how many concepts can be mapped over, he talks for example on how having "rockstars" in a team that aren't team players isn't worth it.

- Ride of a lifetime by Bob Iger -- It's mostly a biography of Disney's most successful CEO, I thought it was very authentic and gave good advices on how to deal with creative people, empathy, setting goals and navigating hard situations (compartmentalizing)

- Creativity Inc Amy / Ed -- Pixar's president biography on how to manage creative teams, it is a bit repetitive but it is golden! Lots of good ideas and insightful chapters that make you think about how to build a successful culture.

- The Manager's Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders -- IMO a bit shallow compared to the other books I mentioned but it was a pleasant read.

Radical Candor is easily the most impactful leadership book I've read. I've always struggled with finding the balance between being direct without being a jerk and being compassionate without being ineffective. I still feel like I nail it about 10% of the time, but at least I have a clearer picture of what the communication style I'm aiming for looks like.

On the topic of

General Management - High Output Management by Andrew Grove

Visibility and Alignment - Measure What Matters by John Doerr

Understanding People and Teams - Surrounded by Idiots by Thomas Erikson

Radical Candor by Kim Scott. By far the best management book that I have read, it changed my way of thinking when it comes to leading a team.

"An elegant puzzle", "High output management" and "Behind Closed Doors" have all been useful to me.

I think leadership stems from engineering cultures. So I guess you may find Netflix Culture Code interesting [1]. It's introduced by Reed Hastings, the CEO

[1] https://www.slideshare.net/mobile/reed2001/culture-1798664

This comment is for anyone like the OP who is looking for resources beyond books.

I run a free mentoring service for managers, and most (but not all) tend to come from the tech side of the world. My sessions are 45 minutes long, and I did over 120 in 2019.

I’m currently on hiatus till January as I just had a baby boy I’m spending time with (actually sleeping on me as I type this out!), but feel free to grab some time in January if you’d like to talk to someone live.


A lot of people in comments below have talked about struggling with the “How” when it comes to taking the concepts they’ve learned and putting them into practice. This is the value of a live conversation with another human being, where we can talk through specific examples, play around with the scenarios, and either prepare for a future challenge, or come up with a plan to address the current one head on.

I think I will!

I strongly recommend the following:

Good to Great: Why some companies make the leap and Others Don't The Goal: A process of Continuous Improvement Team of Teams Strategy that Works: Bridging the Stategy to Execution Gap

There isn't a single book that will teach you everything you need to know, but these 5 books taken together will cover nearly everything. The points I suggest paying the most attention to are level 5 leadership, the hedgehog concept, the flywheel concept, Kaizen style continuous improvement, how to organize groups of teams to avoid micromanaging, and how to work with a company culture to make decisions supported by real data that tells you what the most effective decisions would be and how to achieve this by choosing concepts to promote to employees in order to guide their decision making.

What Every Body is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent's Guide to Speed-Reading People [1]

This book has allowed me to understand what the people around me are saying, without even saying a word!

"Read this book and send your nonverbal intelligence soaring. Joe Navarro, a former FBI counterintelligence officer and a recognized expert on nonverbal behavior, explains how to "speed-read" people: decode sentiments and behaviors, avoid hidden pitfalls, and look for deceptive behaviors. You'll also learn how your body language can influence what your boss, family, friends, and strangers think of you."

[1] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1173576.What_Every_Body_...

Here is my favourite; David Packard's (of HP fame) address to HP managers - https://gizmodo.com/the-hp-way-how-bill-hewlett-and-i-built-...

Read and memorize the above.

There is a whole lot of BS in the Leadership Industry and we should first educate ourselves on the realities. Start with Jeffrey Pfeffer's "Leadership BS".

The above same charge of BS can also be laid at the door of of various Management "theories". A good antidote is Ted Stephenson's "Management: A political activity".

Leadership/Management is more about understanding People/Organizational psychology and behaviours and not "feel good" theories.

Gerald Weinberg's "Becoming a Technical Leader" is an often overlooked classic.

Seconded - and most stuff written by Weinberg is worth reading

Agreed, one of my secret goals is reading each and every one of his books ;)

For being immensely practical, I'm a big fan of 1. "An Elegant Puzzle: Systems of Engineering Management" 2. "High Output Management" 3. "Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams"

There is a nice compilation of articles in a github repo, divided by topic. https://github.com/charlax/engineering-management Leadership is an expansive topic and I don't think it's possible to nail it. "Turn the Ship Around" I think really nails the strategy of Functional Leadership, plus it's a true story. Keep in mind that Leadership and Management are two very different topics that people often conflate.

Not specific to just tech teams, but I loved The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success by William Thorndike. So many great notes about leadership and successfully running a business in general.


How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Not really about leadership per se, but it helps you get out of your own way which allows a lot of other good things room to happen.

While i really value the books from the US and British armies that were shared, I think "Principle Centered Leadership by Stephen Covey" is a really good book on the topic of Leadership. https://www.amazon.com/Principle-Centered-Leadership-Stephen...

Recently I have been relying on two good sources for leadership:

- Book: The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker: I think this is an excellent book to teach the part of the brain that wants to execute to think more strategically and concentrate on the leadership side.

- Podcast: Modern CTO: This podcast has lots of interviews CTO's from all kinds of companies. It's pretty casual and entertaining but also seems to always motivate me to be a better leader.

You learn from history and what other people did well and didn't do well. Leadership is a combination of your own innate abilities combined with self-awareness and feedback. From this, you can apply historical knowledge (understand you may not have Washington's height and strength, but may be a better tactical decision maker).

Read biographies on others:

Washington: A Life



Fighter Pilot (Robin Olds)


Anyone you admire - read about them - find out what was good and what was bad.

Mattis's new book is good: Call Sign Chaos.

"On Becoming a Leader" by Warren Bennis

This book is not very big but is exceptionally dense and easy to read. I found a lot of useful information that I apply to my daily life - reflection, being authentic, allowing oneself to make mistakes and much more.

I reread it three times already and I always found new ideas.

(As a technical guy) I developed a great passion for philosophy and arts in general thanks to his book.

Tribes by Seth Godin is good as it talks about how communities grow around ideas not individuals.

Also read things written by great leaders. i.e. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius http://classics.mit.edu/Antoninus/meditations.html

Most of my responses are covered already, and I know this is cliche, but Art of War by Sun Tzu.

One thing that has always stayed with me about leadership is his five traits that define a great leader.

1) Wisdom 2) Courage 3) Sincerity 4) Benevolence 5) Discipline


And on a side note, I love seeing the increased submissions around leadership!

Not strictly management, but related:”The Trusted Advisor” is a book about consulting. Which is really the same soft skills you would need in leadership positions where you have a lot of domain experience and leadership is more about helping the team make their own tech decisions

Managing the Unmanageable, a second vote for Peopleware, The Mythical Man-Month, and The Conviction to Lead


One of my personal favorites is Tribal Leadership: https://www.amazon.com/Tribal-Leadership-Leveraging-Thriving...

Also a really good book. +1

A variant on the OP's question.

What are good books on leadership that are written by people who have actual experience of being great leaders?

Most books on leadership seem to be written by people who have no experience of leadership, they just know how to market their books.

Not a book but Software Lead Weekly is a great newsletter that curates content from around the web about leadership in tech: https://softwareleadweekly.com

Just so you know, leadership is completely different for middle managers and founders. A lot of the "leadership books" are targeted at middle managers, and if you follow their advice word for word, it won't work.

High Output Management by Andy Grove. Great resource that I re-read every year or so

Leadership for me is "influencing people to create change".

We use many books, but my favorite is 5 dysfunctions of a team.

After that is first break all the rules

Both of these are extremely practical and give a model for how to operate on a daily basis.

“Score takes care of itself” By Bill Walsh

While not necessarily a “tech” book, the parallels to leading high performing teams are incredible. For me, this was the book that changed the way I think about leading my team.

Most bookstores would put leadership books and self help books in different sections of the bookstore. And these are the folks who put science fiction books and fantasy books in the same section!

My boss gave me a copy of _Talking with Teach Leads_ by Patrick Kua. I enjoy it. It's an anthology of testimonials by tech leads. It helped give me some perspective on what I need to focus.

edit: grammar

Lots of good recommendations here; two I would add are "Debugging Teams" and "The Geek Leader's Handbook"

The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard. It's simple but effective and malleable once you've had some experience.

Satya Nadella’s ‘Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft's Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone’

Hey, I really like your contribution with such a great collective approach, I loved reading them, l would really appreciate it if you add me in your collection to lend me a thumbs up also and keep up the good work though. besides, I'll be reading them whether it would be yes or no :) https://studioelitechicago.com/

Thank you

Just FYI your search input goes over your header on mobile, looks a bit odd. Give that header a z-index :)

I recently bought 'Talking with tech leads' by Patrick Kua. Very applicable to tech companies

My favorite is 'Multipliers'

Here's my shortlist:

- The Art of the Advantage (33 stratagems)

- Winning By Jack Welch

- Tribal Leadership

- Creativity Inc

- The Lean Startup (~leadership in the face of uncertainty)

The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz and The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins.

see a famous Harvard Case study, with an emphasis on leadership in crisis, about Ernest Shackleton's race to the South Pole: "Leadership in Crisis: Ernest Shackleton and the Epic Voyage of the Endurance"

I liked Bossidy's "Execution" and "Facing Reality", like all such books they wander a bit but they have some good insights. "Managing Humans" was okay but I guess I may have come to it a bit later in my managing experience so it seemed pretty obvious. "The 5 dysfunctions of the team" is useful for understanding how to look at root causes of teams that become dysfunctional, can be depressing when you recognize your own team in its pages :-). And not a management book per se but "The Sociopath Next Door" was a useful read because it better helped me understand and identify people who were very different than I am in terms of their emotional investment in things.

The Phoenix Project

Brene Brown 'Dare to Lead' is excellent

Dynamics of Software Development, by McCarthy.

This is a great thread!

Read Watership down.

Be Slightly Evil: A Playbook for Sociopaths

is pretty good on this topic.




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