"Unwritten Laws of Engineering" https://www.amazon.com/dp/0791801624
Originally meant for mechanical engineers, it provides specific and general non-technical career advice. It focuses on what we call “soft” skills today. This field puts so much weight into technical prowess that we often think of these “soft” skills as somehow beneath the “hard” skills. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you don’t spend time on learning how to navigate your career, you’ll be as well off as a dragster on the backroads: you’ll get nowhere fast. I only wish I could have read this book sooner; it would’ve saved me a lot of trouble early on.
"Becoming a Technical Leader" https://www.amazon.com/dp/0932633021
Don’t let the title fool you: this is not just for people planning on becoming a “Tech Lead.” It’s for anyone in the tech field, period. If you pickup this book you must work through the exercises to get the full effect. It will be worth it. It’ll be like having your own therapist, life coach, and mentor, except that it’s just you and a notebook answering very important questions.
"The Pragmatic Programmer" https://www.amazon.com/dp/020161622X
I consider this book 10x better than Clean Code and Code Complete combined! (Though that may just be because I read PragProg first?) As the name suggests, this book provides more tactics advice but also gives great career advice too. The most famous is to “learn a new language each year.” This kind of advice seems a bit much, but over my career I’ve had to write in over a dozen different languages, even though 90% of the code I’ve written has been in just one language, the ability to pickup new languages quickly and easily is a solid skill to have. And that’s just one particular tip from this book.
(These are excerpts from my suggested reads blog post: https://valbaca.com/posts/my-suggested-reads-3cie)
"It identifies which leadership skills are most effective in a technical environment and why technical people have characteristic trouble in making the transition to a leadership role. For anyone who is a leader, hopes to be one, or would like to avoid being one."
What worked for me:
- One on Ones. Nothing I've done has had as much of an impact as weekly one-on-one meetings with everybody on my team. I tend to follow the format outlined on Rands In Repose: http://randsinrepose.com/archives/the-update-the-vent-and-th... (This is an incredible blog for engineering management. I would highly recommend reading everything he has written.)
- Read everything you can find on the topic and about leadership in general and start figuring out how you can incorporate the lessons from those books into your situation and context. This is a brand new skill set that you need to approach with the same effort that you had been approaching engineering.
Rands in Repose: http://randsinrepose.com/archives/category/management/
Radical Candor: https://www.amazon.com/Radical-Candor-Kim-Scott/dp/B01MY574E...
Extreme Ownership: https://www.amazon.com/Extreme-Ownership-U-S-Navy-SEALs/dp/B...
Becoming a Technical Leader: https://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Technical-Leader-Problem-Sol...
- Finally, one piece of advice I got when I first transitioned into management was that "first-time managers usually fall into the trap of becoming the manager they wish they had. What you really need to do is figure out how to be the manager that each person on your team wishes they had, and become that manager." Easier said than done, obviously, but I've always found it useful to return to it whenever I am struggling.
You may want to buy it directly: http://www.dorsethouse.com/books/btl.html
Fresh book recommendations delivered straight to your inbox every Thursday.