Great IT managers are made, not born. Great management books are much the same. Like just about anything in life, it always helps if you can get some good advice from others. This includes the best approach to some important things in life, such as managing your IT business or department. I am sure that some days it feels a lot like herding cats, while other days you would swear that everyone in your area is on the same wavelength. While we all can't have our own private guru to show us the way, there are some really great books out there that can help.
Not every book will work for you, and some will make you want to throw them across the room. But I have found that just about every one of these books has some little gem I can apply to my situation. The trick is to be open to what they are bringing you, and think about your own department or business when reading them. I listen to these as audio books while in the car. I have a friend who plays them while doing housework on weekends. I know several people who simply make it a habit to read one of these books for an hour each night before turning out the light to sleep. However you find the time, I really strongly suggest you find it to read at least a few of these books. I have rated them out of a total value of ten to give you an idea of how important I found them for my business.
The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spenser Johnson - 10 out of 10
I would consider this to be my book of the year and it is about 30 years old. It has sold 13 million copies and been translated into 37 languages, to simply show you how influential this book has become. It is a quick read, and focuses on three simple techniques every manager should know: the one minute goal, the one minute praising and the one minute reprimand. If you manage staff and are a technical binary type person, this is compulsory reading.
High Tech, High Touch, Customer Service by Micah Solomon – 10 out 10
These days, especially in the tech world, customer service is what separates the men from the boys. If you think you can do it without engaging digital media for you and your customers, you need to read this book. The point that Solomon makes is that while not every business needs to use social media, if you don't use it be prepared for social media to use you. This was another of my favorites as I really appreciate and happily pay extra for great customer service. If you serve customers you should read this one.
EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches by Dave Ramsey - 10 out 10
A long time advocate of business intelligence and a leading voice for financial sense, Ramsey has written a book that looks at the best approach to leading a company. It is something he knows plenty about. It covers everything from practical advice to making hard decisions and more. Dave Ramsey is so inspiring and this was another of my favorites.
Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh - 10 out of 10
The CEO of Zappos, a legendary online shoe company with tremendous reputation for amazing customer service shares his story. He tells how he created a corporate culture with a commitment to service that aims to improve the lives of its backers, employees, customers and vendors. If you are passionate about customer service this is a great book.
Eat that Frog by Brian Tracey - 10 out of 10
This has become a classic book for just about anyone, but especially if you deal in management issues. I have read some of Brian Tracey's other books but this was a standout. The main takeaway? Learn how to stop procrastinating and eat that frog.
Our Iceberg is Melting by John Kotter - 9 out of 10 This book is a great one for anyone who knows and understands the difficulty of change. We are right now living in a time of great change, but finding ways to recognize that and make changes in our business lives can be a huge challenge. Kotter uses a parable about Antarctic penguins to illustrate the eight steps any organization needs to use to implement change successfully.
The Trusted Advisor by David H. Maister, Charles H. Green, and Robert M. Galford - 8 out of 10
More than business skills and knowledge, to be successful in business today you must earn the trust of your clients. That is the groundwork for this very readable book. I had this in paperback for a couple of years and it is a classic. This is especially true if you are an MSP since our job is to become the client's trusted advisor and not the computer guy.
Getting Things Done by David Allen - 8 out of 10
A great time management book, I have found that many people are obsessed with this book. I enjoyed it and will read again. Maybe overrated but is one of those books you just have to read.
Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne – 7 out of 10
A very popular book when it first came out in 2005, it still has some innovative ways to look at competition. The authors are both directors of the Blue Ocean Institute and the book is based on their study of 150 strategies over the last 100 years. When companies create "blue oceans" of uncontested markets they gain value and open up new demands.
Finally, a word about Seth Godin –
Seth has done a number of books that are worth checking out. He is not just one of the leading experts of marketing he also has a great voice and his audio books are very inspiring listening. You always find great nuggets of information in all his books. Among the best ones, in my opinion are The Icarus Deception, Purple Cow, All Markets Are Liars, Poke the Box and Tribes (my favorite).