Book Recommendations from Sydney Technology Leaders

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Last week I went to the Sydney Technology Leaders’ Meetup, which we hosted in the Tyro Fintech Hub. There was a trio of great talks, and a panel discussion with the speakers at the end.

When asked what they do to help train new leaders, one of the speakers mentioned “throwing a bunch of books at them”. So I took the opportunity to ask the speakers, if they could only recommend one or two books to a new leader, what would each of them recommend. Obviously I’ve added all these to my “Want To Read” list (if they weren’t already), and I thought it might be useful to print the answers here so that others can find them too.

Dave Bolton (@lightningdb), Head of Engineering at William Hill Australia, recommended:

The Effective Executive
“The measure of the executive, Peter F. Drucker reminds us, is the ability to “get the right things done.” This usually involves doing what other people have overlooked as well as avoiding what is unproductive. Intelligence, imagination, and knowledge may all be wasted in an executive job without the acquired habits of mind that mold them into results.”
High Output Management
“This is a user-friendly guide to the art and science of management from Andrew S. Grove, the president of America’s leading manufacturer of computer chips. Groves recommendations are equally appropriate for sales managers, accountants, consultants, and teachers—anyone whose job entails getting a group of people to produce something of value.”


Graeme Cooper, Agile Coach at Westpac, recommended:

The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement
“This book, which introduces the Theory of Constraints, is changing how America does business. The Goal is a gripping, fast-paced business novel about overcoming the barriers to making money. You will learn the fundamentals of identifying and solving the problems created by constraints. From the moment you finish the book you will be able to start successfully addressing chronic productivity and quality problems.”
Management 3.0: Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders
“In many organizations, management is the biggest obstacle to successful Agile development. Unfortunately, reliable guidance on Agile management has been scarce indeed. Now, leading Agile manager Jurgen Appelo fills that gap, introducing a realistic approach to leading, managing, and growing your Agile team or organization.”


Ken Dovey, Associate Professor at UTS and Director of the Master of Business (IT Management), recommended:

Steer clear of business books, read fiction.


Of course, this is my blog, so I get to throw my opinion in too!
My current reading recommendations for new leaders are:

Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization
Written based on findings from a decade-long study, this book is about how tribes of people – from a team to a whole company – act and interact to affect each other’s culture. Review coming soon.
The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey
This is an old and cute book, a very quick read, and it taught me a lot about time management (which, as a leader, really means people management) in a very short time.
Rise: 3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, and Liking Your Life
While the premise of this book is to advance your career, the bulk of it is actually advice about how to be a really great leader that’s focussed on what the business needs (with the balance being how to get your leadership recognised and translated into promotion).
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