There are so many traits that make a good project manager. Of course, you need to know how best to manage a project or build a product, but you also need the 'soft skills'. You need to know how to communicate effectively, how to lead, how to motivate others, and how to persuade people you don't manage to work towards a common goal alongside you.
Learning all this can take years, but you can give yourself (and your team) a head start by getting stuck into some good books. If you're a team leader, you could start a team library by purchasing these books for your team to take turns reading, or if you're planning a training program, why not include them in the course materials.
Here's a summary of top 7 books we believe every project manager should read.
1. Making things happen: The art of project management
by Scott Berkun
In the updated edition of his bestselling book, Microsoft project veteran Scott Berkun offers a collection of essays on field-tested philosophies and strategies for defining, leading, and managing projects. Each essay distills complex concepts and challenges into practical nuggets of useful advice, and the new edition now adds more value for leaders and managers of projects everywhere.
Making Things Happen doesn't cite specific methods, but focuses on philosophy and strategy. The book offers in-depth exercises to help you apply lessons to your job.
2. Building Products for the Enterprise: Product Management in Enterprise Software
By Blair Reeves and Benjamin Gaines
This book is particularly helpful to those who are new to software product management or who just want to learn more about it. Creating high-quality software for the enterprise involves a much different set of challenges. In this practical book, two expert product managers provide straightforward guidance for people looking to join the thriving enterprise market.
Authors Blair Reeves and Benjamin Gaines explain critical differences between enterprise and consumer products, and deliver strategies for overcoming challenges when building for the enterprise. You’ll learn how to cultivate knowledge of your organization, the products you build, and the industry you serve.
3. Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion
by Robert B. Cialdini
Every project manager needs to know how to persuade people to follow their lead. Influence is a classic book that explains the psychology of why people say yes - and teaches you how to get them on your side.
Dr. Robert Cialdini spent 35 years conducting rigorous, evidence-based research, and completed a three-year program of study on what moves people to change behavior.
In this book, you'll learn about hsix universal principles and how to use them to become a skilled persuader.
4. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
Daniel H. Pink
Most people believe that the best way to motivate is with rewards like money, but science suggests otherwise. Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, Daniel Pink explains something that most project managers already know - it's really not that simple.
Pink is a popular author and TED Talk presenter who is well known for his insights into what really motivates people. In this book, he suggests that the secret to motivation lies in the deeply human needs to direct our own lives, create new things, and do better by ourselves and our world.
5. Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage
by Alfred Lansing
We all go through difficult times, times when leading a team to the end of a project feels impossible. In times like these, it's helpful to read an epic tale of endurance and leadership under the most trying circumstances.
In this best-selling book, Alfred Lansing shares the story of polar explorer Ernest Shackleton’s incredible survival for over a year on the Arctic seas, leading his sailors back to safety. A must-read for any leader.
6. Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence
Daniel Goleman, Richard E. Boyatzis, Annie McKee
This is another good book on leadership. In this case, the book illustrates the power—and the necessity—of leadership that is self-aware, empathic, motivating, and collaborative in a world that is ever more economically volatile and technologically complex.
The book explains how, by developing characteristics like empathy and self-awareness, great leaders are able connect with others through their ability to drive emotions in a positive direction to get results.
This groundbreaking book remains a must-read for anyone who leads or aspires to lead.
7. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High
Kerry Patterson, Rob McMillan, Al Switzler
You can't be an effective project manager if you don't know how to communicate. The ability to communicate effectively in tense situations is a huge asset to a project.
This book, Crucial Conversations, is best-seller that teaches you how to communicate when emotions are running high.
Readers will learn how to prepare for high-stakes conversations, make it safe to talk about almost anything, transform unpleasant emotions into powerful dialogue, and how to be persuasive, not abrasive.
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