ALM #057: Essential Reading: Four Books Every Engineering Manager Should Know
These Books Will Transform Your Leadership Style
📖 Read Time: 4:15 minutes
I've said it once! Heck, I've said it a million times!
Part of our role as Engineering Managers should be to continue learning new skills and decision-making frameworks.
By learning other ways of solving similar problems, you'll increase your decision-making matrix and create custom and often innovative solutions that fit your team and their issues.
So today, I will show you 4 books that every Engineering Manager should read to improve their craft and skillset.
Remember, the issues you're currently struggling with have your specificities, but in most cases, other leaders have analysed and dissected the underlying problem.
It's up to you to make sure you go the extra mile after these answers.
Here are 4 books you should read at least once in your career.
And with summer approaching nothing better than starting to create your reading list.
The Coaching Habit
If this were a haiku rather than a book, it would read: Tell less and ask more. Your advice is not as good As you think it is.
I read The Coaching Habit last year, and it resonated so much with me that it just went up the ranks.
Stanier writes this book with a thought in mind:
Stop answering the questions you ask.
Stop giving advice when it's not requested.
Create the space for the person to come up with their answer and guide them through their thought process.
As a leader, this book is a must-read. It will give you the foundations for every coaching and mentoring session and help you redefine how you assemble and conduct your one-on-one sessions.
One thing I enjoyed in the book was when Stanier dives into Neuroscience with the TERA model.
The idea is that our brain continuously scans its surrounding environment to make sure it's in a safe condition.
The TERA model allows you to reassess your work relations and, in many cases, understand why stressful relationships exist.
Make sure that you are seeing each person on your team with fresh eyes every day. People evolve, and so your relationships must evolve with them. Care personally; don't put people in boxes and leave them there.
Radical Candor is a key book for every manager and individual contributor out there.
Throughout the book, you'll understand the importance of feedback and how to provide good feedback independent of the content.
As a leader, it's crucial for me that I and my teams can provide good, actionable feedback to each other. Only by doing this do we build better teams with even better professionals.
This book is great for everyone to understand that they're not perfect. You might be the best at what you do technically, but if you show no empathy and are plain rude in your interactions, you will only diminish the impact that you can make.
Start With Why
The role of a leader is not to come up with all the great ideas. The role of a leader is to create an environment in which great ideas can happen.
"Start with Why" is one of those books that, if you haven't read, you need to stop what you're doing and go read it.
The idea is quite simple:
Great brands and great ideas don't start with the what or the how. They start with why.
Only by diving deep into the why, to the visceral reasoning behind why you should do something or why that product will be life-changing, do you reach the idea's full potential.
From a leader's perspective, sitting down with your team and brainstorming on the way of your team, of your product will create connections that will act as the foundations of your team's culture.
Show Your Work
Make stuff you love and talk about stuff you love, and you'll attract people who love that kind of stuff. It's that simple.
This book has weirdly become one of the most influential books in my adult life.
In "Show Your Work", Kleon makes a case for why you should build in public and share your journey.
Nothing is more powerful than a story, and sharing your story as you build is, at the end of the line, priceless.
We no longer live in a world that confines us to our streets, city, and country. We live in a connected world where you will find people that love the same things you do and that want to talk about the same things you do.
So share your journey, your successes, and your failures. Open yourself to the possibility of a connected tribe and where you'll grow as part of the community.
Something that resonated with me was the idea that if you share your journey and build a community, you'll get to a point where when you apply for a job, your community and your journey speak louder than any CV.
To me, as a leader, being able to put myself out there is key, and it's something I always advise.
Every Engineering Manager needs to continue to learn and grow.
And going through an influential list of books is a great way to add to your toolbelt of frameworks, processes and experiences.
Here are 4 of the books I consider extremely valuable for any Engineering Manager to read:
The Coaching Habit by Michael Stanier
Radical Candor by Kim Scott
Start With Why by Simon Sinek
Show Your Work by Austin Kleon
Now, between you and me, here are a couple of more interesting books (some of them iconic) that could or should have made the list:
The Manager's Path by Camille Fournier
Engineering Management for the Rest of Us by Sarah Drasden
Atomic Habits by James Clear
Building a Second Brain by Tiago Forte
What else would you add?
See you next week!
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Have an incredible week! 💪🏼
Parada 👊🏼 A Leader's Mindset