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Tech Career Insights: Recommended Reading on Tech Leadership and Productivity from Leaders at Booking.com, WeTransfer, and Co.
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Recommended Reading on Tech Leadership and Productivity from Leaders at Booking.com, WeTransfer, and Co.

By Jomiro Eming

A great way to learn from the best in the world is by looking at what they read. In software development and team management, this can be a valuable way to improve how we operate on a day-to-day basis. We chat to software developers, tech leads and CTOs from top companies like Disney, Booking.com, WeTransfer, and Gitlab, who have shared their top reads with us. Here are their recommendations for levelling up in tech leadership and productivity.

If you’ve read any of these books, or have others you’d like to add, let us know in the comments! You can also tweet your own recommendations — just remember to tag OfferZen (@offerzen) so we can see what you’re reading!

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“Crucial Conversations”, Kerry Patterson

Recommended by: Parham Doustdar, Team Lead at Booking.com

Parham puts a lot of focus into improving the way he and his team communicate. Understanding what someone actually wants to hear is a large part of that - especially as a team leader. That’s why he recommends Crucial Conversations.

“Dynamic Reteaming”, Heidi Helfand

Recommended by: Jan Ambroziewicz, Senior Product Manager at Codility

Jan’s background in design management and environmental psychology gives him a particular interest in teams and people. He always looks for ways that tech companies and tech leaders can boost their product, productivity, and organisational performance:

“It’s not to criticise, but to discuss the assumption that teams should always be stable — because in practice, they never are. People come and go for different jobs and different opportunities, teams grow, priorities change… She brings a lot of interviews with different practitioners and specialists from the tech industry about how they experienced changes in their teams, building, growing their teams, or splitting them. The book explains how to manage, how to tackle, and how to not be afraid of ‘reteaming’.”

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change”, Stephen R. Covey

Recommended by: Antoine van der Lee, Team Lead and iOS Developer at WeTransfer

Antoine is someone who juggles a lot of projects at once — from leading a team, to developing apps, to writing a blog. Habits are the things he relies on to get through it all effectively.

Taking a principle-centered approach, Covey tackles — as the name suggests — the routines, systems and habits that people who are successful in their fields get right and exemplifies each point with anecdotes from real-life.

“Radical Candor: How to Get What You Want by Saying What You Mean”, Kim Scott

Recommended by: Dimitra Retsina, CPO (a.i.) at ReceiptBank

Dimitra says that, as a leader, she always looks to successful leaders and learns from their experiences. Leading a team, and inspiring those people to do their best work and get behind any product strategy or vision, requires Dimitra to master the art of tech leadership — and, in her experience, a key part of getting that right is having radical candor.

Kim Scott was a successful manager at Google before she moved to Apple, and this book draws directly for her experiences at two of the arguably biggest tech companies in the world, and how she built a new approach to effective management by embracing fierce conversations.

“Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It”, Chris Voss

Recommended by: Christian Gill, Senior Software Engineer at Catawiki

Christian enjoys working on his soft skills as a developer, and improving the way he communicates with people as much as he works on improving his technical ability. About this book, he says: “I thought I was going to read it to get a better salary, but I ended up improving my relationships across the board because it was more about listening to people, and coming to an agreement in every situation you find yourself in.”

As ex-FBI negotiator, author Chris Voss talks through the world of the best and most successful negotiators — not just for getting what you want, but being a better communicator, a better listener, and a better leader.

What are your favourite books? Let us know in the comments what books have helped you in your career, and why they’ve had such an impact!

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