8 Must Read Books for Product Managers

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” -Margaret Fuller
Product mangement is an emerging discipline. It is said that product managers are CEOs of their products. Rightly so, product managers are involved in the entire lifecycle of a product. From building talented teams to generating profits, they influence all the phases. Here is a list of 8 books for product managers covering various topics that will suit your needs as a product manager.

  • Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose by Tony Hsieh

Hsieh has experience on developing a team culture from working in Zappos. Delivering Happiness emphasizes the need for customer support training. Customers go on a journey when planning to buy or pay for something. From easily finding information on the company website to interacting with customer sales reps, customers experience a lot. The book teaches you the importance of these experiences, and how to take them into consideration from a product leadership aspect.

  • Product Leadership: How Top Product Managers Launch Awesome Products and Build Successful Teams by Richard Banfield, Martin Eriksson, and Nate Walkingshaw

Product Leadership offers a chance at analyzing patterns and themes of successful leaders and their teams. By identifying certain characteristics that lead to success, the goal of effective product management becomes a reality. Another useful aspect of the book is the inclusion of best approaches, strategies, and tactics to ensure a better work environment for the team. Identifying the needs of external stakeholders, agencies, and customers leads to better outcomes and solutions.

  • Lateral Leadership: A Practical Guide for Agile Product Managers by Tim Herbig

Effective leadership is hard to define. What works for one person may not work for the other. Therefore, learning about various leadership approaches can help someone develop and refine a sound leadership strategy for any occasion. Lateral leadership involves putting engineering, design, and business at equal levels. As a lateral leader, everyone works as peers. The book highlights how lateral leadership means aligning around and committing to a vision without formal authority. Unique and refreshing, the authors show innovative ways to manage products.

  • Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal by Oren Klaff

Sometimes tension happens between a product manager and a sales team. The language of persuasion, while complex, is useful for these situations. Pitch Anything teaches the art of persuasive language for use on product strategy development. Getting everyone on board leads to goal completion and profits. By increasing emotional intelligence, product managers improve their leadership ability.

  • Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown

Another book that knocks it out the park for emotional intelligence development is Daring Greatly. Brown teaches about the importance of inspiration. To inspire others takes knowing the person, connecting. When a subordinate respects the leader, the flow of communication increases. Leading by example and being a role model are key aspects Brown highlights in the book. Some people aim to lead without doing the work it takes to earn the respect of their team. By making the effort to set a good example, leadership becomes a journey to success.

  • The Inmates are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products are Driving us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity by Alan Cooper

Cooper relates software to ‘cognitive friction’ in an easy to digest format. Offering an immersive take on usability problems of the time (2004), Cooper gives readers a look at past technology. For instance, the book mentions how Microsoft ignored their users, blaming them for not understanding. An entertaining and informative read, some themes are still applicable today. This a Must Read for anyone wishing to dive into the technology community of the previous decade.

  • The User Experience Team of One: A Research and Design Survival Guide by Leah Buley

Not everything should be focused on team building.  The User Experience allows readers to identify what to do when alone on the job. Highlighting design activities and UX research, every chapter outlines lifecycle phases, activities to consider for implementation of specific outcomes, and what is frequently needed at the time. For activities listed in the book, Buley includes needed prep time, goals, suggested agendas, and materials needed.

  • Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization by Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright

The authors make note of humanity’s desire to form tribes. Socialization and communication remains an inherent part of the human brain. This book allows the reader to delve deep into why people form groups, enjoy the company of others, and so forth. History provides a wealth of useful information that leads to a profound understanding of society. The authors suggest looking back and seeing why society developed into what it is now. A unique read for the times.

Given how fluid & nascent product management is, majority of the times – product managers should be generalists. And the above list of books for product managers gets you started on that journey.

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