Recommended reading for engineering managers

Updated September 2, 2020

Books are a powerful technology used to effectively transfer ideas from smart and knowledgable practitioners to a theoretically unlimited number of people. Great books are one of the most time- and cost-efficient ways to learn and level up your career.

These are books that I’ve read and recommend for engineering managers. Books in each section are listed roughly in the order I recommend them.

(Links below go to Amazon; they are not associate links.)

Engineering Management

Leadership and being an executive

  • Andy Grove, High Output Management. A classic without a wasted word. If I had to recommend one book this would be it.
  • Peter Drucker, The Effective Executive. The language is dated, but one of the best introductions to thinking like an executive.
  • Mark Horstman, The Effective Hiring Manager. The best book on interviewing I’ve read.
  • David Marquet, Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders. I was prepared not to like it, but it is an excellent and readable book on leadership. Most useful is its discussions briefing vs. certification, and the relationship between competence and autonomy.
  • Ben Horowitz, What You Do Is Who You Are. The best book on corporate culture I’ve read.
  • Manager Tools (podcasts). Mark Horstman can be a bit much and many people find his personality insufferable. That said, this material has helped me in numerous and practical ways, particularly on the fundamentals early in my career. If this material speaks to you, I recommend paying for the yearly subscription so you can search and read the shownotes.
  • David H Maister, Managing the Professional Service Firm. This is aimed at running a consulting organization, so you probably want to skip most of it. But its chapters on your personal strategic plan, how to build human capital, and the motivation crisis are excellent.
  • Jim Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t. How to think of the business as a whole.

Communication

DevOps

Organizational design

Productivity