The 15 Best Books for New Managers
Being a manager is a career milestone. On the one hand, it lets you have a larger impact on the lives of your colleagues and your organization. You get to influence decisions that can benefit your company and you have the opportunity to continue to develop your skills.
On the other hand, it can be daunting. You’re in charge of careers, of futures, of other lives. You’re plagued with the thought that any decision you make can either positively or negatively impact not only your colleagues, but also your company. There’s a “burden” of responsibility that you have to come to terms with.
It can be daunting, especially for new managers. No one ever tells you exactly what to do, and it can be an emotional rollercoaster.
I understand that every manager has a different experience. I used to work as an engineering manager, and while I was fortunate enough to work with other leaders who readily shared their wisdom, I knew that I couldn’t just rely on them all the time.
Over the years, I’ve read many books on leadership and management that have given me insight and guidance. A few weeks ago, I shared my favorite books for experienced managers, and this week, I’m sharing 15 of my top picks especially for new managers. These books will help you chart your career and better steer your colleagues in the right direction.
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Networking and Job Hunting
Whether you’re a fresh grad or a veteran in the field, finding a job is always exhausting. These books have helped me find and leverage my strengths. They have also taught me how to connect with people who have helped me climb the career ladder.
How do you connect with people? How do you build fruitful relationships? What do you need to do to become successful? These are the questions that Keith Ferrazzi tries to answer in his book Never Eat Alone. Basing off of his personal networking experiences, this book offers a deep insight into building genuine human relationships and how you can best utilize your network as a stepping-stone to success. Ferrazzi also shares wonderful, specific advice on how to best overcome some of life’s challenges such as rejection and gatekeepers.
“Your network is your net worth. This book shows you how to add to your personal bottom line with better networking and bigger relationships. What a solid but easy read! Keith’s personality shines through like the great (and hip) teacher you never got in college or business school. Buy this book for yourself, and tomorrow go out and buy one for your kid brother!”
— Tim Sanders, author of Love Is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends and leadership coach at Yahoo.
A classic, Richard Nelson Bolles’ book has had many editions and still remains one of the most popular reads for jobseekers and career-changers. It’s been named one of the “All-Time 100 Best Non-Fiction Books” by _Time _magazine. Finding a job is one of the most difficult things anyone can do. In his book, Bolles teaches you how you can design your career within the context of your strengths. It doubles as a manual that gives advice on how you can write effective resumes and cover letters to help you land your dream job. This latest edition features updated resources, case studies, and perspectives in the context of today’s time and situation.
“What Color Is Your Parachute? is about job-hunting and career-changing, but it’s also about figuring out who you are as a person and what you want out of life.”— Time
What are your strengths? Do you know what you’re capable of?
I understand how difficult it can be to answer these questions. It can be hard figuring out what you’re good at or how you can use your strengths to succeed. StrengthsFinder 2.0 is an updated version that shares with readers a variety of strategies where you can effectively apply your strengths. It’s a book that helps you in your journey of discovering your strengths and uncovering your talents.
“A career coach told me to get this and take the test about my skills set. Realized I was on the wrong career path and haven’t been happier since changing directions. Works so well.”
The books in this category guide you to become better at helping your colleagues realize their potential. These can change how you view motivation and what drives people to do better at work. Whether you’re a new manager or have years of experience behind you, these books are still founts of timeless and practical wisdom.
Decision-making isn’t just for company leaders. As a manager, you’ll also be making decisions left and right. And there are times when you need to make hard decisions that can affect your colleagues or your organization. Loosely based on Dennis Bakke’s experience, this book shares how a seemingly simple idea—giving decision-making power to the right people—can transform any organization.
“There are many things to like about Dennis Bakke’s latest book, The Decision Maker. It is insightful, it is well-written, it is a breeze of fresh air in the management literature. Bakke’s principles are simple—share the power, and let people have fun making decisions—but like it is often the case, these simple principles can have a groundbreaking impact. Read The Decision Maker and change your outdated conceptions of what management ought to be.”
— Frédéric Godart, Professor of Organisational Behaviour, INSEAD
This _New York Times _bestseller by John Doerr teaches organizations how to grow by utilizing the Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) system. It reveals how big companies and organizations such as Google and the Gates Foundation have applied and benefitted from OKRs, which have also helped improve workplace satisfaction and retention rates.
“Measure What Matters _deserves to be fully embraced by every person responsible for performance, in any walk of life. John Doerr makes Andy Grove a mentor to us all. If every team, leader, and individual applied OKRs with rigor and imagination, all sectors of society could see an exponential increase in productivity and innovation.”
— Jim Collins, author of _Good to Great
In his revolutionary book, Daniel Pink aims to change our perspective on motivation and rewards. He leverages science as a way to better explain what drives us to do what we do and how there is a disconnect between scientific facts and business practices.
“Drive is the rare book that will get you to think and inspire you to act. Pink makes a strong, science-based case for rethinking motivation—and then provides the tools you need to transform your life.”
— Dr. Mehmet Oz, co-author of YOU: The Owner’s Manual
Recruiting and Hiring
These books provide insights and practical tips on how you can effectively recruit and hire new employees who can help your organization grow to new heights.
How do you predict success? In fact, how can you determine if you’re hiring the right people for the job? Adam Robinson shares new insight on how we can rethink the way we recruit and hire. He teaches us how we can rethink this process so we end up getting the right people for the job.
“Robinson provides practical advice and proven strategies to streamline and optimize the hiring process. The Best Team Wins shows you how to hire a team that will make your company great.”
— Gino Wickman, Author of Traction and Creator of EOS(R)
If you’ve ever wondered how you’ll go about finding the right people for your company, you should definitely consider adding Herrenkohl’s book to your reading list. The book posits that it’s easy to find people who want to work, but finding the right people or what Herrenkohl labels as “A-players” is a different challenge altogether. Aside from providing insights, this book shares strategies on how you can find and hire these A-players that can help your company grow.
“This book is excellent as a strategy to hire people in a competitive market. It also builds on corporate brand development.”
The questions we ask during the hiring process can spell the difference between a great hire and a potentially debilitating decision. Falcone’s book teaches us the right questions to ask, how to gauge interviewees, and how to properly evaluate their answers and spot red flags.
“Easy to read and understand. Appreciate the reasoning behind each question and what it means when they answer a certain way.”
It can be hard to be productive. At this day and age, the words “productive” and “productivity” are being thrown around, and as a result, their definitions have become muddled. The books in this category help us refocus on what really matters and what we need to do to get things done.
How do you get things done? In fact, how and where do you begin? David Allen, himself a veteran management consultant, shares how we can implement effective productivity in the workplace to drive us to our fullest potential. Change the way you work and your perspective on productivity by reading this book.
“David Allen brings new clarity to the power of purpose, the essential nature of relaxation, and deceptively simple guidelines for getting things done. He employs extensive experience, personal stories, and his own recipe for simplicity, speed, and fun.”
— Frances Hesselbein, chairman, board of governors, The Drucker Foundation
Discover the secrets of top performers and how they manage to work smarter and, in the process, achieve more. This book explores the seemingly simple dilemma of why some people perform better than others in the workplace.
“I loved this book. It was an easy read and there were so many applicable things covered. I read this for a school project and all of my teammates enjoyed it as well. It was also super helpful to have the summary of the chapter at the end of each chapter. There was also a huge reference section which takes up a good portion of the book.”
Tom DeMarco tries to find out the reason behind why today’s organizations are struggling. He argues that companies need some slack, some degree of freedom that enables a company to change. This is a great book for both old and new companies, a book that debunks many common assumptions that negatively impact the workplace.
“Tom DeMarco goes after one of the most pervasive and pernicious myths of business—that humans are efficient the same way machines are. Slack will change the way you manage and understand your business.” — David Weinberger, author of The Cluetrain Manifesto
What NOT to Do
As a manager, you’ll face your fair share of challenges, decisions, and actions that need to be executed. How do you decide which ones to follow through and which ones to abandon? These three books serve as cautionary tales on what _shouldn’t _be done, especially when you’re in a place of power and privilege.
This cautionary tale about the financial crisis in the 2000s sheds light on what caused it in the first place. It’s a well-written book that sheds a surprisingly human light on the players who brought about the crisis. This _New York Times _bestseller has been adapted into a film in 2015 starring Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt.
“This is the single best finance book there is and without a doubt the best work to come from the Financial Crisis of 2008. It might seem impossible to make collateralized mortgage obligations and credit default swaps interesting to the layman, but Michael Lewis somehow does that and more.”
This book by John Carreyrou sheds light on what caused the downfall of Elizabeth Holmes’ infamous biotech startup Theranos. It chronicles how what started as a brilliant idea that could supposedly save lives and change the world turned into a deceptive scheme that shortchanged workers and investors alike.
“I started this book and could not put it down. It’s a horrifying true story of a driven entrepreneur whose only overriding goal was to become insanely rich. And she would do anything, any unimaginable thing, to get there.”
In a time when startups are a common phenomenon, Dan Lyons’ book shares deeper insights into Silicon Valley and what’s behind all these tech startups, from the venture capitalists to corporate intrigues. Through this book, he invites us to view the current state of Silicon Valley with all its startups with a more informed, unbiased perspective.
“The book is a remarkable achievement, giving both prospective employees and investors a razor-sharp look inside a hellhole that seems so pleasant from its exterior. I loved this book and hope all my former, present, and future colleagues take the time to read it.”
If you know of any other books that might be good reads for new managers, find me on Twitter. I look forward to hearing your recommendations.