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Which management book would you recommend to read for a fresh Team Leader?

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10 Answers 10

up vote 18 down vote accepted

Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams comes to mind.

The first chapter of the book claims,

“The major problems of our work are not so much technological as sociological in nature”.

The book approaches sociological or ‘political’ problems such as team ‘jelling’, quiet in the work environment, and the high cost of turnover.

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+1 The father of all the software management books. The father is much better. –  user2567 Dec 10 '10 at 7:19
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+1. Would add +100 if I could. First read this 20 years ago, and try to make a point of re-reading it every year. Reading it right now while on holiday. –  quickly_now Dec 10 '10 at 8:04
    
I read the review of this book from amazon. Its quite impressive and going to order the book. Thanks. :) –  sankar Dec 10 '10 at 8:13
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My issue with this recommendation is that much of what's in there is going to be beyond a Team Leader to change. It's a great book they should read but I'm not sure it's going to provide much practical help. –  Jon Hopkins Dec 10 '10 at 10:36
    
I bet this book says nothing about outsourcing. –  Job Dec 18 '10 at 3:22

Managing Humans book cover

Managing Humans, aka the collection of managerial stuff from Rands In Repose, is worth the read, and funny to boot.

A ton of truth concentrated down to its essence.

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Rapid Development by Steve McConnell.

The reason I go for this over PeopleWare is that there are a few more things in here you might actually be able to implement as a team leader. When you're a team leader (with the lack of clout that normally comes with) much of PeopleWare is largely aspirational as you're not going to be able to significantly influence working environment, salaries and recruitment and so on.

I guess it depends on whether you're looking for something on development process or on management and leadership though. While I've not read it I like the look of The First 90 Days which someone has recommended. Alternatively I quite like The One Minute Manager though plenty have issues with it (largely that it's told as a story and that it's content is obvious - which I agree with but we frequently miss the obvious so reminding ourselves from time to time is no bad thing and whatever you think of it it is at least very short).

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I agree with your recommendation. My answer was about "a classic", but your suggestions are very practical. –  VonC Dec 10 '10 at 11:53
    
@VonC - Ah. To be honest in technology there is only one classic (Peopleware), after that it's the generic management books and I'm always wary about those. I seem to recall that all the companies featured as excellent in In Search of Excellence underperformed the market over the next 5 years... Too much postulating, not enough facts. –  Jon Hopkins Jan 17 '11 at 16:09

The Mythical Man Month by Fred Brooks has a lot of great what-not-to-dos. That and Peopleware are the two that define software project management.

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At least after reading The Mythical Man Month, you will be able to understand the jokes the older programmers are making about your project plan. –  Ian Dec 10 '10 at 10:50
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That book is a mixture of things that are way out of date and no longer applicable, outright mistakes, things that have become generally accepted and are no longer necessary to be pounded in, and insights that have been generally disregarded by managers for decades and really need to be better known. –  David Thornley Dec 10 '10 at 19:07
    
I agree with @David Thornley: there's definitely worthwhile advice in there, but it's liberally intermixed with useless or even poor advice. I wouldn't recommend it for a new manager, but it's still worthwhile for someone who's been around the block. –  Matthew Frederick Dec 18 '10 at 5:17

Read "The first 90 days..".. This book is indespensable..

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If you're a new Software Team Leader, I'd recommend:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Leading-Software-Development-Team-Successfully/dp/0201675269/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1309974890&sr=1-2

It is written from the perspective of "I've just been made a team leader - now what?" and has lots of practical scenarios presented in a clear manner. It also has good references within each section so it is useful as an ongoing reference book.

Leading a Software Development Team

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AntiPatterns in Project Management is a wonderful list of ways to do things wrong. It's a great list of things to avoid.

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Well, the good ones listed are already pretty popular with most programmers. How about this one: The No Asshole Rule by Bob Sutton.

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I would actually argue for Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art or something along those lines. Your management style, while it can be adjusted, is largely set by this time. You can always learn to do things better, faster but your style is really who you are.

Some people are opinionated jerks, others like to scream and yell while other listen and build consensus. If you have been developing for any length of time those personality traits are either pretty much set or fairly visible. You new position is going to require a lot of scheduling: your time and other people's time. To succeed you better get it right (or mostly right).

Your status as a freshly minted Team Leader will be determined by your ability to deliver projects on time.

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Your own. Train your leader by a series of discussions and mentoring sessions, and have your trainee keep a private journal of situations, responses, and successes or failures. Essentially, they will write their own book. This exercise is not so much for the book itself or reference- it is to encourage the act of reflection.

Then, after the freshly-minted leader has a grasp of the issues, select some of the great books posted in other posts.

My point is that you should have some experience with leadership and management before you go reading books about them, simply because you won't know enough about the subject matter to really understand, appreciate, and relate to what you've read. For example, you wouldn't advise someone to read Code Complete before they wrote their first line of code, would you? The same applies here. Get your feet wet so you have something to relate to, and then go for the books.

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