Long story short, Engineering Leaders read a lot. During our intimate roundtables and on our dedicated Slack group, our members recommend and discuss about books focused on management, technical stuff, psychology, and business, amongst other. In this second blog post part, we are sharing 5 books shortlisted for you.

Want to check the first list? Here you go! 🤓

TL;DR

  1. An Elegant Puzzle: Systems of Engineering Management
  2. Radical Candor: How to Get What You Want by Saying What You Mean
  3. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
  4. Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days
  5. Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence

All credit goes to Sarah, Vitaly, Matthew, Huseyin - top Engineering Leaders and members of our new community! 🙌

An Elegant Puzzle: Systems of Engineering Management

by William Larson

Elegant Puzzle tackles the challenges of engineering management right from sizing teams to technical debt, succession planning, and more. The book shares recommendations on organizational design, tools to improve the act of engineering management, higher-level approaches to tackling common problems within the field, and specific methods for you to (re)shape organizational culture. Though Will Larson has written this book from the lens of IT/Engineering management practices, the approaches, tools, and strategies described can be applied in various parts of your company. This book offers by far the most specific, practical, and actionable advice!

Some takeaways

  • Structure of the book: Organizations, Tools, Approaches, Culture, and Careers.
  • Not a how-to approach, here the author's rich experience allows him to share different approaches that have worked across various situations and organizations
  • Relevant for running a team, managing directs, career progression, and interviewing
  • The book also covers performance rating systems, technical debt, and fast hiring
  • Cool: great resources in the appendix

About the author

Will Larson has been an engineering leader and software engineer at technology companies of many shapes and sizes including Calm, Stripe, and Uber. He writes frequently on his blog.. the Irrational Exuberance.

Radical Candor: How to Get What You Want by Saying What You Mean

By Kim Scott

Radical Candor is an approach for ‘caring personally and challenging directly’. The book suggests moving up on the challenge directly scale, while still caring personally. It also suggests giving people both praise and criticism as often as possible, and not waiting for a perfect cycle to come. Care personally starts with career growth and good 1:1s. Challenge directly starts with asking for and handling criticism well yourself. The anecdotes and examples used by Kim Scott come from personal experience and do not feel like made-up scenarios that plague way too many business books.

Takeaways

  • Valuable tips on how to care personally and challenge directly
  • Feedback is a simple yet crucial part of any successful team. Radical Candor is a compelling companion for anyone trying to build relationships with the people you work with and helps on how to get there
  • Practical tips on setting career goals balancing both personal and company needs
  • Excellent guide for efficient time planning, how to keep up with work, etc.

About the author

Kim Scott - Prior to founding Candor Inc., Kim has led various teams at Google and then joined Apple University to develop and teach a leadership seminar. She has been a CEO coach at Dropbox, Qualtrics, Twitter, and several other tech companies. Blog: https://kimmalonescott.com/.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

By Patrick Lencioni

Patrick Lencioni’s book develops a powerful paradigm about the five behavioral tendencies that corrupt teams. The book can be divided into two parts. The first part tells the story of a newly appointed CEO joining an IT company with a poorly acting management team. The second part deals with examining and understanding the “five dysfunctions”: absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment among others. Combined as a framework, these dysfunctions offer a good way to understand whether a team is functioning properly or not.

Some takeaways

  • The five dysfunctions which cause a lack of teamwork are:
    Absence of trust
    Fear of conflict
    Lack of commitment
    Avoidance of accountability
    Inattention to results
  • Fresh approach to building synergies
  • Practical assessments for each dysfunction
  • Description principles for effective teamwork

About the author

Patrick Lencioni - Founder of The Table Group and author of multiple business books. Prior to founding The Table Group, he worked as a corporate executive for Sybase, Oracle, and Bain & Company.

Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days

By Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz

Sprint is a practical guide to answering critical business questions and problems. Developed by three partners at Google Ventures, the Sprint process is a unique five-day process that aims to help businesses to answer crucial questions and deliver the best results in the least time. The book gives great suggestions on how to structure a team while executing rapid innovation sprints!

Takeaways

  • On Monday, you’ll map out the problem and pick an important place to focus.
    On Tuesday, you’ll sketch competing solutions on paper.
    On Wednesday, you’ll make difficult decisions and turn your ideas into a testable hypothesis.
    On Thursday, you’ll hammer out a realistic prototype.
    And on Friday, you’ll test it with real live humans.
  • The book covers all the key points from setting up a team, developing the idea, defining product features, prototyping the idea, and gathering customer feedback
  • Referencing real life examples, the book highlights how processes positively impact the life-cycle of a product

About the authors

  • Jake Knapp has spent 10 years at Google and Google Ventures where he came up with design sprints. Jake has co-founded Google Meet and helped build products like Gmail and Microsoft Encarta. Apparently, he’s currently among the world’s tallest designers. :D
  • John Zeratsky, before joining Google Ventures, John was a design lead at YouTube and an early employee of FeedBurner, which Google acquired in 2007. John writes about design and productivity for the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, and Wired.
  • Braden Kowitz founded the Google Ventures design team in 2009 and pioneered the role of “design partner” at a venture capital firm. He has advised close to two hundred startups on product design, hiring, and team culture. Before joining Google Ventures, Braden led design for several Google products, including Gmail, Google Apps for Business, Google Spreadsheets, and Google Trends.

Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence

By Daniel Goleman, Richard E. Boyatzis & Annie McKee

This book introduces us to the concept of Emotional Intelligence (EI). The authors share countless examples pointing out that the leaders who are emotionally engaged with their employees are able to achieve more as a whole. For managers & leaders, it lays down a set of paths on how to grow EI in a leadership setting. The authors also discuss EI along with its effect on six different leadership styles: Visionary, Coaching, Affiliative, Democratic, Pacesetting, and Commanding. Depending upon the situation it suggests switching between different leadership styles!

Some takeaways

  • A must to understand the link between Emotional Intelligence and Leadership
  • Check the appendix: comparison of IQ and EI to determine leaders’ effectiveness
  • Authors encourage a "primal task" for leaders: self-managing their own emotional life and learning how to respect and respond to the emotional realities of teams and groups

About the authors

  • Daniel Goleman - Works on leadership transformation with the Hay Group of Boston.
  • Richard E. Boyatzis, professor and chair of Organizational Behavior at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University.
  • Annie McKee, Director of Management Development Services, North America, at the Hay Group.

In these blog posts we will be sharing resources and insights coming straight from our research and discussions with by hundreds of Engineering Managers in our community!

If you are an Engineering Manger interested in joining a community based knowledge sharing, you can take a look at https://indorse.io/engineering-leaders 👋