Great Reads For Engineering Managers/Leaders

Chris Norris
2 min readJun 4, 2017

I love to read, but rarely find satisfying books about management or leadership. Here are some of my few favourite books and articles for tech leads and managers.

Leading People

Creativity, Inc. — a highly readable, ‘human’ (i.e. not dry and bullet-pointy) book about Ed Catmull’s experiences building high performing teams and organizations at Pixar.

First, Break All The Rules — a great, data-driven book that provides a lot of food-for-thought on how to get the best from your people

Drive : The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us — understand the underpinnings of intrinsic motivations of good engineers — spoiler alert : “carrots and sticks” don’t work

Let Your Workers Rebel — help your team be themselves, and reap the benefits of “constructive noncomformity”. Nonconformity promotes innovation, improves performance, and can enhance a person’s standing more than conformity can.

How To Put The Right Amount Of Pressure On Your Team — it’s a constant balancing act for managers in how and when to apply pressure. This article has some good advice.

5 Questions To Help Your Employees Find Their Inner Purpose — helpful questions to really understand what motivates your employees

Communication Skills

How To Be Assertive — being assertive can be difficult; there’s a fine line between authority-driven and consensus-driven leadership

Crucial Conversations — the central part of a manager’s job is performance management, but giving direct feedback in a way that it will be heard and absorbed can be difficult and stressful. This book provides ways to approach these situations. I love this quote about being honest with people : “Candor isn’t cruel. It does not destroy. On the contrary, any successful feedback system is built on empathy, on the idea that we are all in this together, that we understand your pain because we’ve experienced it ourselves.” — Ed Catmull

Transitioning to Management

90 Day Plan For Turning Engineers Into Remarkable Managers — this article embraces the fact that transitioning from engineer to manager is, in many ways, a discontinuity in how you need to measure your value and what your priorities need to be. It also drives home that management isn’t for everyone.

Questions For Our First 1:1 — too often 1:1s default to being status meetings and both the manager and managee can struggle to make the time useful



Chris Norris

Engineering leader for startups — 4 exits and counting. Fascinated with startups, software, and the people around them. Founder at