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Max Ong Zong Bao
Max Ong Zong Bao

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Leadership Books for Developers


When it comes to leadership books, there is a dime in a dozen. From 5 Levels of Leaderships by John C Maxwell, Team of Rivals to books by ex-military soldiers. Like the Leaders Myth & Reality by retired Army General Stanley McChrystal or Jocko Willink's book on Extreme Ownership.

It is no wonder that anyone sincerely interested in the topic has a hard time selecting the books. Which could be useful for you to apply it for your own career growth. As a developer to be either an individual contributor or the manager route. Sadly in the realms of leadership books for developers. There's not much of a list of books that are recommended compared to technical books like Clean Code or Pragmatic Programmer.

Taking Responsibility for Yourself

In reading the book Extreme Ownership, it talks about taking ownership of one's failure when something goes wrong. Despite it's easier to push the blame to someone else and call it a day. Since it does not allow you to conduct a self-reflection on the gaps to improve your own's process. When something goes wrong, to follow through and to maintain relationships to get things done.

This practice actually shows humility to others since you are willing to admit mistakes and continuously improve to become better, stronger, faster as a leader. To take on complex challenges as a leader with a larger team.

A Reader is a Leader

Most leaders are usually readers and one of the most well-known examples that I know of. It is the application of a curated booklist for military officers within the US military. From junior officers to senior officers to encourage reading. Regardless of any military branch with a purpose to be an effective leader in either wartime or peacetime scenarios. This is talked about extensively in Leader's Bookshelf on the curated booklist of 500 books for either junior, middle level to senior officers within each military branches.

The great thing about reading books is that it allows you to draw on concise and well-documented accounts. For experience, mindsets, mental models to tackle problems or challenges with your team within the organisation at a fraction of the cost that you have to put yourself to experience it yourself. Fortunately, with the rise of audiobooks & ebooks, it makes it much easier for anyone to devour books from any leader in the world & history.

Being Tactful In Handling Human Relationships

As a leader, you are tasked to operate at a higher level. From maintaining relationships between your superiors, peers and your subordinates, leading the team to tackle problems to obtain results that an individual is unable to solve to getting things done with your team.

It really comes down to not just get it done and deliver results but how do you get it done. This requires extensive learning and understanding of human relationships. So that you could become better to lead a team to get things done and tackle hard challenges. While being mindful of the power dynamics in play to remove obstacles. On that particular subject, I would suggest the Go-Giver & 48 Laws of Power as a starting point to help you to understand it to become an effective leader.


When you had become a leader learn to delegate and not micromanage them into oblivion. To the point that they are unable to carry out their work without independent thoughts or putting obstacles/red tapes on how it should be done.

It is by understanding it & managing the expectation that is placed upon you. Which comes with related aspects from the delegation of task, project management, conflict management, crisis management, follow-through, mentoring & coaching potential team members. To allow the organisation to grow stronger and be adaptable towards the vision despite the obstacles that are there to get things done and deliver results with your team.

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The original post was on Leadership Books for Developers - Reading Time: 3 Mins and cover image by Markus Spiske on Unsplash


Top comments (3)

prabello profile image
Pedro Rabello

One book that I loved was The Manager's Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change
It is very focused on the management career for software engs.
Since it talks about more common and closer problems, I got a lot of good stuff from it.

bhavaniravi profile image
Bhavani Ravi

I recently finished "How To Win Friends & Influence People" and loved it. Two other books I highly recommend are

  1. 7 Habits of highly effective people
  2. Making of a manager
steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao

7 Habits of Highly Effective People is really a good book.