Product managers are leaders of teams, even if they don’t have formal authority. They need to be able to set a direction, inspire their teams, share their passion, build alignment. So the first seven books I have chosen all have to do with “leadership, management, and interpersonal skills.”
Product managers are also innovators and product designers. They need to understand customer needs very well, develop innovative solutions, think through product design, prioritize features. So the remaining five books all have to do with “innovation and product thinking.”
My goal is to inspire you to read all of these books, so I’ve provided my summary and key take-aways in most cases. Hopefully you will find each of these books as interesting and valuable as I have.
Leadership, Management, and Interpersonal Skills
Thinking, Fast and Slow — Daniel Kahneman
We have a Two System way of thinking — System 1 (Thinking Fast), and System 2 (Thinking Slow). Over-reliance on System 1 can lead us to make snap judgments, jump to conclusions, and make erroneous (biased) decisions. [more]
Mindset — Carol Dweck
There are two mindsets you can adopt for your outlook on life — fixed or growth mindset. If you have a fixed mindset, you believe your qualities are carved in stone. If you have a growth mindset, you believe that you can cultivate and improve your qualities through your efforts. [more]
Grit — Angela Duckworth
What enables world-class achievers to push beyond their limits, rise up in the face of enormous challenges and setbacks, and ultimately achieve their goals? Grit: the combination of passion and perseverance. Angela Duckworth shares her framework for helping individuals develop grit. [more]
Radical Candor — Kim Scott
Ex-Google executive and startup CEO Kim Scott shares her secret for being a great boss — you have to care personally and challenge directly. Lots of great stories and wisdom about how to engage with your team.
The Design of Everyday Things — Don Norman
Don Norman shares many design principles which will help us build better products — such as Human-Centered Design (HCD). Every PM should read this book to improve their own design thinking, and to fully appreciate the contributions of designers and researchers. [more]
It took me several years to discover and read all of these books. I’m hoping to save you some time on the discovery piece by pointing you to the best books that I have read in the last several years that have to do with leadership, management, interpersonal skills, innovation, and product thinking. To get the most out of each of these books: read them actively, take notes, discuss them with your colleagues, and most importantly practice the lessons that you have learned. I am confident that you will be a better product manager and leader if you do so.
I would love to hear your thoughts or feedback about these books as you read them. Please respond in the comments or Tweet at me.