March 2nd, 2018
Becoming a manager is one of the hardest transitions to make. Some people have a natural knack for it, but most of us have to learn our way through it by trial and error. That or get advice from people who have been there.
Lucky for you, we know a lot of those people. Thousands of managers are using Status Hero each day to help stay on top of what’s going on with their team. We love to talk to our customers to learn about them and how they use Status Hero. In those discussions we make a habit to ask them what blogs, books, and podcasts they recommend. It helps us understand what interests them and what they aspire to be.
Over the course of hundreds of discussions, we’ve collected the following list of resources that we hear frequently recommended. While many of them have a strong Engineering focus, we picked the ones that we feel have lessons that apply to management in all types of organizations.
Are we missing something? Want to chat? Let us know!
Maker to Manager to Leader
Author and leadership coach Marcus Blankenship’s Medium blog is full of great content and advice for leaders. If you’re making the transition from maker to manager, you need to read it. Two of our favorite articles are Why Your Programmers Just Want to Code and A Wake Up Call for Tech Managers. Marcus also offers free articles and lessons on his site that are definitely worth checking out.
The Lighthouse blog is 100% focused on making you a better manager. And it applies to managers for all types of teams, not just software. Learn how to Give Constructive Feedback, Ensure a New Manager Succeeds, and avoid 5 Common Mistakes Managers Make with Remote Employees.
Rands in Repose
Focused mostly on Engineering, the management section of Michael Lopp’s blog is a goldmine for for insightful, thought provoking, and quick advice for handling the various challenges faced by managers. With over 10 years worth of content, there’s something for everyone. A must read and one of our favorite articles is The New Manager Death Spiral.
Signal v Noise
Signal v Noise is a blog from the fine folks at Basecamp. It features musings on design, business, tech, but also features great advice for managers and leaders of teams. A few of our favorite articles include Status meeting are the scourge, Is group chat making you sweat?, and Running in circles.
First Round Review
Started with the goal of becoming the “Harvard Business Review for startups,” First Round Review is a fantastic collection of writings from startup experts and includes a strong focus on management. A couple articles we recommend are Three Powerful Conversations Managers Must Have To Develop Their People and How Instagram Co-founder Mike Krieger Took Its Engineering Org from 0 to 300 People.
Leading Software People
That’s right — this blog. The one you’re reading. We focus our advice around four categories: Team Communication, Leadership & Management, Productivity & Estimation, and People & Culture. And…it’s not just a blog. Leading Software People is also a monthly newsletter that features great articles from other blogs (including the ones above!). Check out the past issues and subscribe!
Leading Snowflakes - Oren Ellenbogen
Oren Ellenbogen is the VP of Engineering at Forter. In this book/audiobook and optional set of videos, he goes into the challenges of transitioning from “maker” to manager. While you’re likely a really strong individual performer (hence being asked to lead), you probably weren’t taught how to build a team or manage your former peers. Leading Snowflakes offers you proven tools and practices for improving your management skills.
Managing Humans - Michael Lopp
You might have guessed that we’re big fans of Michael Lopp. Despite a day job as VP of Engineering at Slack, he has time to share his accumulated wisdom through blog articles and books. If you are an Engineering manager, it’s a 100% must-read, and really valuable if you are in disciplines outside of Engineering. Our favorite chapters are The Rands Test and Taking Time to Think.
The Manager’s Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change - Camille Fournier
Camille Fournier grew from a tech lead to a CTO. In this book she takes you through each stage of her journey. You’ll learn the basics like how to be a good mentor and balance individual needs vs the entire team, all the way up to more advanced challenges like managing other managers. This book is ideal whether you’re a new manager, a mentor, or a more experienced leader looking for fresh advice. To get an idea of her work, here’s a great article from Camille on Building and Motivating Engineering Teams.
Radical Candor - Kim Scott
While fairly new, Radical Candor has taken a spot on most folks’ “top management books” list. Written by Kim Scott, it goes into detail about how being honest and candid with your team is your duty as a manager and will involve providing critical and direct feedback. Giving (and receiving) constructive criticism can be one of the hardest things to learn as a new manager, but this book gives you a framework and techniques to make it a lot easier. Our favorite chapter is “Get, Give, and Encourage Guidance”.
The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership - Bill Walsh
Bill Walsh is one of the most successful football coaches of all time, and his journey involved taking the San Francisco 49ers from one of the worst football programs of the 80s to one of the best. While not engineering or software focused, the lessons he teaches in this book, like maintaining a standard of excellence and setting a strong example, are incredibly relevant and valuable for anyone that is leading others.
Managing Oneself - Peter Drucker
Peter Drucker was a writer, teacher, and management consultant and helped found one of the first executive MBA programs in the 70s. In this short book (it takes less than an hour to read) he explains how knowledge workers must take charge of their career and shouldn’t rely on their companies. You must find ways to stay engaged and productive. The keys are to understand what your strengths and weaknesses are, how you learn and work with others, and know what type of work environment you are best suited for. Once you have that knowledge you can find the right job for you and achieve true success.
How to Win Friends & Influence People - Dale Carnegie
In this highly recommended classic, Dale Carnegie provides simple and straightforward tactics to deal with difficult people, make people like you, win people to your way of thinking, and change people without offending them. It may feel somewhat like common sense but it’s surprising at how many people fail to employ the techniques in this book. Our favorite chapters are You Can’t Win an Argument and Talk About Your Own Mistakes First.
The Advantage / The Five Dysfunctions of a Team - Patrick Lencioni
Both Lencioni books contain solid advice for building a healthy team and organization that are based around psychological safety and a willingness to challenge one another (and the status quo). The Advantage focuses on organizational health and ensuring that there is alignment amongst leadership and down through their organizations. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is written as a fable and outlines the common problems facing teams, as well as straightforward approaches to overcome them.
From the fine folks at Harvard Business Review, Ideacast is a weekly podcast featuring leading thinkers in business and management. It’s hosted by Sarah Green Carmichael who is a regular speaker and moderator at conferences like SXSW, the Drucker Forum, and Thinkers50. Episodes are typically under 30 minutes, making them perfect for your morning commute.
Seeking Wisdom is an entertaining podcast from Drift, hosted by CEO, David Cancel and VP of Marketing, Dave Gerhardt. Episodes focus on personal and professional growth, often featuring high-profile guests from the technology and growth worlds. One of our favorite episodes is #90 - “Hiring, Firing, and People” featuring Patty McCord, who spent 14 years at Netflix running HR. For an entertaining and motivating podcast, check it out.
Jocko Willink is a decorated retired Navy SEAL officer and author of the book Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win. Jocko spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy SEAL Teams, starting as an enlisted SEAL and rising through the ranks to become a SEAL officer. He retired in 2010 and now spends his time teaching the leadership principles he learned on the battlefield. On his podcast Jocko discusses discipline and leadership in business, war, relationships and everyday life.
Coaching for Leaders
Hosted by Dave Stachowiak, who has more than a decade of leadership at Dale Carnegie, this weekly podcast features best-selling authors and expert guests providing real world leadership advice.
Dose of Leadership
Hosted by Richard Rierson and features inspiring and educational interviews with leaders from all aspects of life including business leaders, entrepreneurs, authors, and military leaders.
The LEADx Show
Kevin Kruse, author of the best-selling book Employee Engagement 2.0, hosts this podcast featuring interviews with leadership experts and business executives. There are new shows every weekday and they feature great practical advice that you can apply to your own life.