Top Books to Level Up Your Software Leadership Skills

These six books containing valuable and actionable insights are a must read for any software business leader.

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Being a software business leader means having a 360° view on all aspects of running a successful company, from sourcing (or outsourcing) new talent and effective human resources management, to streamlining processes, optimizing financial expenditures, and creating a robust sales pipeline.  It means learning resilience, and adapting to change with calm confidence.  It also means that you are capable of reaching out for support as needed because no-one can be an expert at everything.

The following 6 books are a must read for any software business leader because they provide valuable and actionable insights across a wide range of topics.

1Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want from Your Business

by Gino Wickman, Mark C. Winters

Rocket Fuel is a how-to manual for understanding and managing the relationship between a “Visionary” and an “Integrator,” the two fundamental roles at the top of every new software company.  The book overviews the importance of counterbalancing an entrepreneur’s grandiosity  with a manager’s prudence and discipline.  The combination of the two, when done correctly, helps companies achieve great success by creating a powerhouse dynamic that plays on the strengths of both leaders.  However, because of the differences these two personality types bring to the table, conflict and strife can arise and lead to frustration on both sides.  The book lays out these dynamics with clarity so that the reader can avoid pitfalls.

2Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

by Cal Newport

Deep Work not only discusses how our brains (and society at large) have changed because of constant distraction, but it also gives readers practical tips on how to overcome such distractions to create moments of intense concentration to push our cognitive capabilities to new limits.  The Deep Work hypothesis is that the ability to perform deep work and achieve a state of flow is becoming increasingly rare and, at the same time, increasingly valuable.  As a consequence, the people who are able to cultivate this skill will thrive.  The book is an essential tool for any manager (but especially for those managing remote teams) because it outlines practical methods to allow for and encourage flow in the workplace.

3Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It

by Chris Voss, Tahl Raz

Chris Voss is a renowned FBI hostage negotiator who has honed his skills through his experience managing an unprecedented number of high stress scenarios.  He has transformed his technique into a practical methodology to help sales professionals build trust and rapport with prospects to close deals faster.  He has also created a Masterclass around this methodology, and teaches the implementation of these tactics using practical exercises such as “mirroring” (repeating back key words to the speaker so they feel heard).  Never Split the Difference is a great read full of fascinating stories that will help you become a better negotiator with anyone sitting on the other side of the table.

4Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

by Carol S. Dweck

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success compares the difference between people who have a fixed (or rigid) mindset, to those with a growth (or resilient) mindset.  As we all know, agility in any software business is a must.  The book provides the reader with a deeper understanding of how mindset directly influences business strategy (consciously or subconsciously) because your beliefs impact your ability to make good decisions.

5The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea

by Bob Burg, John David Mann

The Go-Giver is a classic business book although it reads as a novel.  The story sucks you in immediately!  It’s short and easy to read, so this can be a book you take with you on your summer vacation to the beach.  The book provides insights into the “law of value,” and “the law of compensation.” In other words, your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value (to your customers) than you receive in payment, and your income is determined by how many people you serve in addition to how well you serve them.  The underlying message in the book is that when you show up to give and provide tremendous value to your customers, your success is guaranteed.

6The Miracle Equation: You Are Only Two Decisions Away From Everything You Want

by Hal Elrod

Renowned speaker, author and business man, Hal Elrod, in his second book, The Miracle Equation, explains how unwavering faith and extraordinary effort over time creates “miracle” results.  He overviews how he tested this theory to achieve success and pulls on his own life experience in sales to make his point.  He explains that most people give up on their goals too quickly (very often only a few feet from the finish line) because they don’t have the faith that is required to keep going despite not seeing immediate results.  This book is a great companion for any sales team but is also a handy reminder for business leaders of all kinds.

7The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People

by Gary Chapman, Paul White

Every good business leader knows that employee satisfaction is essential for retention, and yet, most companies are very bad at the fundamental element behind creating a sense of fulfilment in the workplace: appreciation.  Gary Chapman, author of the bestselling relationship book, The 5 Love Languages, takes his research and applies it to business in The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People.  He explains that team members will experience a lack of connectedness with others and with the mission of the organizations they work for if they do not feel a sense of purpose, or lack feelings of appreciation.  Workers who do not feel appreciated tend to become discouraged and start complaining about their work, initiating a slippery slope that often leads to an increase in employee turnover.  When companies retain their quality employees over the long term, they gain an edge over their competitors and keep costs down by having continuity in their relationships with their customers and vendors.  This book explains that not everyone receives appreciation in the same way; understanding the appreciation “language” of each employee will help them feel appreciated, and in turn, improve workplace environments as a whole.  The book contains hands-on exercises and surveys so that the reader can assess the reasons behind their own employee turnover; it provides practical tips on how to implement change based on the understanding of these different languages.

Happy reading!

Liz Lemarchand

Liz Lemarchand is the Chief Operating Officer of MediaDev, a global IT marketing firm. She has 20 years of marketing experience and provides strategic counsel to software vendors both large and small.

Liz Lemarchand is the Chief Operating Officer of MediaDev, a global IT marketing firm. She has 20 years of marketing experience and provides strategic counsel to software vendors both large and small.