Book Review: The Manager's Path

I can’t recommend The Manager’s Path by Camille Fournier highly enough for Software Engineers. I’m not a tech lead, however I found this book super useful for understanding the structure of technical organizations. It contains many gems that I want to write on sticky notes and post above my desk at work. Like this:

Especially as you become more senior, remember that your manager expects you to bring solutions, not problems.

This book covers the nitty-gritty aspects of tech leadership like 1-on-1s, mentorship, and debugging team dysfunctions. The book eventually works its way up to skills needed for managing managers and CTO-level roles.

Defining what a technical leader really is

There aren’t many materials out there that tell you what an engineering leader is and how-to steps on how to be a good one. Some engineers (myself included) used to think that the most 1337 engineer rose up to become the manager. As if “management” was a prize bestowed on the winner of a years-long programming contest. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the book:

The idea that the tech lead role should automatically be given to the most experienced engineer, the one who can handle the most complex features or who writes the best code, is a common misconception that even experienced managers fall for. Tech lead is not the job for the person who wants the freedom to focus deeply on the details of her own code. A tech lead who does this is not doing her job.

Mindfulness

This book had an unexpected but welcome section on mindfulness. I appreciated this section, especially this tip Camille shares:

Write a page or two of free-flow thoughts every morning, to clear my mind and prepare for the day

Tech leadership is far more about people skills and emotional intelligence than coding, and mindfulness can help sharpen your EQ. I see numerous parallels with the philosophy of Google’s internal Search Inside Yourself program which I took this year. I recommend the book of the same name that explains the program and the reasoning behind it.

Other books mentioned in this one

My primary source of books is mentions in other books. Here are ones mentioned in The Manager’s Path I want to check out: