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Best Books for Leaders in Tech: the Waydev Selection

May 5th, 2022
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If you are working your way up the career ladder as a newly promoted Engineering Manager or aspiring to a C-suite position as a CIO or CTO, you know that becoming a good software engineering leader is not as easy as following a 10-step plan. 

Daily, there are complex situations you need to tackle which require interpersonal and technical skills, combined with communication and people skills. After a closer look, you might realize that it all breaks down to several variables: the support you offer to your team, how you assess their results, the ways individuals engage with one another, their approach to projects, performance, and work ethics.

You need more than past experiences to react to different situations, especially if you are just starting. You need to understand other people’s perspectives, strategies, negative and positive events, and how it all affects your project delivery.

For a bird’s eye view on how your team if performing and to align your development process to business requirements and increase velocity, you have Waydev. We bring you the solutions to efficiently monitor, measure and optimize your projects.  

To prepare for a leadership position or upgrade your leadership style and reduce your chances for mistakes and expand your horizons we made a list of the best books for engineering managers. In this selection, we have included titles that offer a more technical perspective and titles that teach you how to develop your management, leadership, and people skills. Moreover, you can also download our newly released Waydev Data-Driven Engineering Leadership in 2022, the engineering management eBook that showcases how to use data in your daily activities to boost velocity and team performance. 

1. Data-Driven Engineering Leadership in 2022

When we started working on the Data-Driven Engineering Leadership eBook, back  in 2020, our objective was to create one of the best eBooks for leaders in tech, taking into account the year’s challenges. We aimed to showcase how you may use data to gain an edge over the competition, increase software development velocity and product awareness, and foster a continuous improvement culture. 

Our analysis shows that over 30% of the engineering teams’ work is unplanned. While this affects overall performance and efficiency, experience has shown us that unplanned work is difficult to track by most engineering leaders and, subsequently, hard to reduce. 

This is where Waydev comes in. By connecting to your project management tools, such as Jira and Jira Enterprise, we deliver the necessary data to assess your unplanned work and your team’s performance and dynamics. 

Data-Driven Engineering Leadership in 2022 walks you through important engineering management metrics and how to use data to improve team output and optimize day-to-day interactions, such as daily stand-ups, retrospectives, and performance meetings.

2. Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps

Another popular engineering management book, Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations, was written by Dr. Nicole Forsgren, Jez Humble, and Gene Kim. The piece is meant to help engineering managers measure software development performance by going beyond the classical, quantitative metrics – such as lines of code or the number of commits – that don’t offer a comprehensive view of their projects. 

To develop Accelerate, the authors deployed four-year research among over 2,000 companies of different sizes from various industries, like manufacturing, finance, and agriculture. 

They assessed the strategies of software deployment organizations. They identified four key metrics that they could use to accelerate a project’s path from “committed to mainline” to “running in production” in mere hours compared to months. Also known as the DORA metrics, these are Deployment Frequency (DF), Lead Time to Change (LTTC), Mean Time To Recovery (MTTR), and Change Failure Rate (CFR).

Waydev enables you to track DORA metrics by automatically pulling data from CI / CD pipelines. The approach ensures that engineering managers access a dashboard that showcases each team’s output and assesses DevOps performance. Discover more about how to make Accelerate metrics work for you in this article

3. The Manager`s Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change 

The Manager’s Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change is considered one of the best books for leaders in tech because it takes professionals from the first steps in the career ladder to mentoring, senior management, and C-suite roles, describing the responsibilities and approaches of CTOs and VPs of Engineering. 

What makes it a particularly excellent engineering management book is its focus on technical and managerial aspects and the comprehensive, chronologically accurate perspective on the manager’s path. This means that, depending on their positions, readers may strategically focus on the chapters intended for them. 

Moreover, the book also covers specific interactions, like one-to-one meetings, performance reviews, firing professionals that are not performing according to standards, delegating work, and dealing with dysfunctional teams. This way, it offers tech leaders beneficial, applicable advice. 

4. The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development

When it comes to engineering manager books, The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development is a must-read. The piece is considered one of the best in its field, as it offers essential insights into DevOps. 

The author approaches product development as systematic processes that may constantly be modeled and improved. Moreover, its economic perspective sees metrics as economic values, which helps readers focus on pragmatical, real-life aspects instead of theoretical concepts. 

The book is organized into specific principles, so you can use it to approach different topics and generate conversations among team members to ensure they internalize standards and create alignment. 

Extremely technical, this is an excellent read for engineers new to DevOps management roles, which will appreciate the author’s small-batch approach. 

5. An Elegant Puzzle: Systems of Engineering Management

An Elegant Puzzle is one of the engineering management books filled with “Aha!” moments. This Will Larson book is a result of his experience as an engineering manager who has worked for companies like Yahoo, Digg, Uber, and Stripe. 

The author approaches daily management responsibilities, sharing what worked for him. He discusses engineering pain points that apply to companies and projects of different sizes, focusing on handling technical debt, sizing teams, and growing seniority levels across teams. The book makes a case for combining engineering principles with a human-centric approach to enjoy technical and operational benefits.  

Written in a light, conversational tone, the book is excellent for those aspiring to an engineering career and for HR and operational professionals looking to empathize with the field. 

6. Staff Engineer: Leadership Beyond the Management Track

Staff Engineer: Leadership Beyond the Management Track defines technical leadership archetypes without focusing on the engineering management career. This is quite an undocumented field, so Will Larson’s book clarifies the highly misunderstood role of staff engineers. He offers definitions and explains what lies beyond the long-term technical strategy and the overall responsibilities of the position. 

Moreover, the author complements these theoretical aspects with realistic scenarios, studies, and interviews. Interestingly, more than half of the quotations are from women, which gives the topic a balanced approach. 

7. Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager

Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager is not your typical engineering management book. The author, Michael Lopp, who occupied leadership positions at companies like Apple, and Netscape, shares his Silicon Valley stories, showcasing how people relations occur in the real world, where people feel immense pressure to succeed. 

The book has 3 parts, which focus on the skills managers need to make it, how engineers and managers create and use organizational processes, as well as developing talent, recruiting and offering a good career path to people.  

Information is organized into entertaining stories, which are insightful and which offer examples of how people behave in certain situations, expanding readers’ visions of interpersonal relations, meetings, feedback, and daily activities. 

8. Software Engineering at Google: Lessons Learned from Programming Over Time

Software Engineering at Google: Lessons Learned from Programming Over Time is an engineering management book that sounds very specific as it studies how this industry leader delivers and maintains software. 

Its authors, Titus Winters, Tom Manshreck, and Hyrum K. Wright, software engineers, respectively technical writers at Google, take readers on a ride in one of the companies that are most accustomed to managing change and that uses a live codebase to its full potential. 

Moreover, the book also focuses on showcasing the differences between engineering and programming and how organizational culture enhances performance. 

Not many companies operate at the same level as Google, so some challenges and examples may be significantly more prominent than those you face. Still, their role is to help you see your situations differently and identify new perspectives that may help. 

9. The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win

The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win is centered around the story of Bill Palmer, the IT Manager of Parts Unlimited, who is asked by the CEO to report directly to him and to solve the company’s most challenging new IT initiative, the Phoenix Project, in just 90 days.

To bring clarity and improve the company’s situation, Bill developed a strategy comparing plant manufacturing with IT deliverables. Starting from this approach, the IT Manager focuses on reorganizing company flows and communications and transforming operations. 

The book presents the company’s DevOps journey, emphasizing situations with which professionals relate and enabling tech leaders to draw valuable lessons. 

10. Team Topologies: Organizing Business and Technology Teams for Fast Flow

Team Topologies: Organizing Business and Technology Teams for Fast Flow is one of the best books for leaders in tech and for anyone trying to understand how development teams work. 

The book written by IT consultants Matthew Skelton and Manuel Pais identifies 4 types of teams 

and 3 types of interactions and shares tips and tricks on developing good patterns that contribute to making software architecture clear and sustainable. 

Team Topologies presents a team-first approach to things and may be used as a step-by-step guide to organizational design. 

How elite engineering managers develop their full potential with knowledge from books and accurate data 

Engineering leadership books are beneficial, as they offer you some insight on how to develop and manage teams, organize daily tasks and deliver upon your responsibilities. In real life, however, you will need more than advice provided by even the best engineering management books out there. 

You will need concrete data in order to make the right decisions – data-driven decisions that will, in turn, help you scale your software development projects while keeping a clear view on how your team is performing.

By providing a solution that analyzes engineering teams’ output without any manual input Waydev complements the know-how gathered from books and helps engineering leaders, CTOs and executives optimize daily operations and team dynamics. 

Book a free demo and join thousands of engineering teams from Fortune 500 companies who are already using Waydev! 

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