Read to Lead

In the 15+ years that I’ve been lucky enough to work in and be involved with the tech industry, I’ve had the privilege of meeting many intelligent and interesting individuals. Among them a reasonable number who are masters of their craft and specialists in their field, but no more than a handful of those special kind of people that we look up to and respect called leaders.

Many of the individuals that I’ve met over the years neither want to lead nor feel like it’s a role they’d be suited to, and that’s fine. On the flip-side, I’ve met a number who felt like they MUST lead, but continually fall a little short of the mark. On a few rare occasions, I’ve come across a special type of individual who, through no particular path or focused drive, will naturally find themselves in a position where others look to them for advice and leadership. These individuals are people who have it in their power to turn an ordinary group of people into a well oiled machine that can deliver something outstanding.

I believe that all of us as leaders are responsible for ensuring that the people who look up to us and believe in us are doing it for the right reasons, that we are capable of leading effectively and that we understand why we are in this position in the first place. This year I’ve made it my own personal goal to be the leader that people expect. That is why I read.

I’m not talking about the masses of technical blogs, documentation and white papers we trawl through on a daily basis, but the “other stuff”. The kind of books that add context to the bigger picture of why we’re doing what we’re doing and how teams and individuals can can be organised into happy, efficient and productive units with common goals and the necessary tools to achieve those goals.

Here’s a list of the kind of books I’ve been reading recently (or still have on my reading list for the next few weeks).

Leadership, Tools and Techniques for Technical Teams

Leading Snowflakes (Oren Ellenbogen)

Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time (Jeff Sutherland)

The Mythical Man-Month (Frederick Brooks)

The DevOps Handbook (Gene Kim, Jez Humble, Patrick Debois and John Willis)

An Everyone Culture (Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey)

The Imposters Handbook (Rob Conery)

On Time On Target (James D. Murphy and Christian Boucousis)

Sprint (Jake Knapp)

The Pragmatic Programmer (Andrew Hunt and David Thomas)

Leadership, Psychology and Culture

Leading (Alex Ferguson with Michael Moritz)

The Art of War (Sun Tzu)

Never Eat Alone (Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz)

How to Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie)

Managing Humans (Michael Lopp)

Elon Musk (Ashlee Vance)

Psych 101 (Paul Klienman)

Hopefully this short list will give you something to work towards, but please do send any recommendations this way. I’m constantly adding to my reading list and encourage everyone to do the same.

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