12 Best Books For New Managers To Read In 2021

Home » Books » New Manager BooksUpdated: November 18, 2021

You found our list of top books for new managers.

Books for new managers are guides that teach new leaders skills and best practices for being good bosses. These guides cover topics like performance management, motivation and coaching, and team development. The purpose of these works is to help new leaders level up quickly and gain the skills necessary to manage employees effectively.

These works are a subset of management books and leadership books. These works contain tips for new managers.

This list includes:

  • books for new female managers
  • business books for new managers
  • resources for new managers
  • first time manager books

Here we go!

List of books for new managers

Here is a list of books for first time leaders to help ease the transition from technical worker to supervisor.

1. Welcome to Management: How to Grow From Top Performer to Excellent Leader by Ryan Hawk

welcome to management book cover

Welcome to Management is a guide for making the transition from being a star employee to an effective manager. The book is split into three parts: lead yourself, build your team, and lead your team. Throughout these sections, Ryan Hawk provides a framework for becoming a dynamic leader. The text covers topics such as self-discipline, continuous learning, response management, and preparation, and points out the qualities and behaviors that make managers great. Leaders will learn how to build productive and supportive work environments and direct teams towards positive results. Welcome to Management lays out the unspoken rules of managing and teaches young professionals how to embrace and get the most out of their new roles.

Notable Quote: “If we don’t trust people, how will we engage them, innovate, create, inspire, be a team? You can trust too much and get burned, but you can also not trust enough, and you wouldn’t see the possibilities.”

Read Welcome to Management.

2. Bringing Up the Boss: Practical Lessons for New Managers by Rachel Pacheco

bringing up the boss book cover

Bringing Up the Boss is the ultimate anthology of advice for new leaders. The book breaks down the basics of being a good boss, such as managing performance, helping employees find meaning in the work, hiring and firing, motivating teammates, and overseeing team dynamics. Leadership blogger Rachel Pacheco gives practical management tips for bringing the best out in yourself and the team, complete with supplementary charts and diagrams. The tone is humorous and relatable and the text is full of entertaining anecdotes. The book also includes an appendix full of templates and tools such as a development plan template, psychological safety team assessment, and coaching questions. Bringing Up the Boss goes beyond theory and best practices and gives emerging leaders a toolkit to make supervising more seamless.

Notable Quote: “It’s hard to manage people who aren’t performing well. You’ll spend countless hours giving feedback, coaching them to improve, and repeatedly clarifying your expectations of their work. But it might be even harder to manage a team member who is blowing it out of the water. You’ll spend countless hours with the over-performers to ensure that they have plenty of autonomy and lots of responsibility. You’ll struggle to assign work that challenges them and reflects development goals that they are inspired to work toward.”

Read Bringing Up the Boss.

3. The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You by Julie Zhuo

The Making of a Manager

The Making of a Manager is one of the top new manager books. Julie Zhou draws on her expertise as a leader at Facebook to help other young bosses take the reins and effectively manage a modern workforce. The book traces the transition into management, from ramping up in the first months, to growing as a leader after gaining your bearings. The guide identifies the qualities and behaviors of effective managers, and shows that leadership is a journey of constant education, self-appraisal, and improvement. Zhou uses her own career as a springboard to show the experience of leading while learning. The book lays bare the unspoken rules of management and shows young professionals how to gain a grasp on being a new boss fast.

Notable Quote: “Your role as a manager is not to do the work yourself, even if you are the best at it, because that will only take you so far. Your role is to improve the purpose, people, and process of your team to get as high a multiplier effect on your collective outcome as you can.”

Read The Making of a Manager, and book Zhou as a virtual speaker.

4. HBR’s 10 Must Reads for New Managers by Harvard Business Review

HBRs must read for new managers book cover

HBR’s 10 Must Reads for New Managers is one of the best resources for new managers. This anthology gathers the most interesting essays ever published in Harvard Business Review on the topic of emerging management. The collection includes works such as “Leading the Team You Inherit,” “Managing the High-Intensity Workplace,” and “Saving Your Rookie Managers From Themselves.” The works within these pages present a variety of angles and perspectives from prominent leadership experts, and the guide is like getting mentorship from some of the best bosses in the world.

Notable Quote: “Executives are shaped irrevocably by their first management positions. Decades later, they recall those first months as transformational experiences that forged their leadership philosophies and styles in ways that may continue to haunt and hobble them throughout their careers.”

Read HBR’s 10 Must Reads for New Managers.

5. Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For: A Guide for New Leaders by William A. Gentry Ph.D.

be the boss everyone wants to work for book cover

Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For is a masterclass in how to adopt a management mindset. The guide identifies the attitudes and approaches that need to change when moving into management. For instance, relying more on soft skills than technical skills, delegating instead of doing all tasks yourself, and focusing on the team’s performance rather than on your own performance. The transition can be stressful and difficult, and this guide prepares readers to better face the challenges that come with the switch.

Notable Quote: “Realize that the biggest driver of any new leader’s success is not about “me” anymore. Make others– your staff, your team, the people you lead and serve– successful and help them fulfill their potential.”

Read Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For.

6. The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter by Michael Watkins

The first 90 days book cover

The First 90 Days is a guide to beating the learning curve that comes with transitions, particularly promotions within leadership roles. The book explains proven ways to close the knowledge gap and set yourself up for success within your first months of a new and higher position. Michael Watkins outlines common mistakes leaders make, suggests strategies to avoid these pitfalls, and explores a variety of scenarios that cover the full range of possible transitions. The First 90 Days shows how to make a good first impression and a strong start as a new leader.

Notable Quote: “The most important decisions you make in your first 90 days will probably be about people.”

Read The First 90 Days.

7. From Supervisor to Super Leader: How to Break Free from Stress and Build a Thriving Team That Gets Results by Shanda K. Miller

From supervisor to super leader book cover

From Supervisor to Super Leader is a management guide that puts an emphasis on team dynamics. This guide outlines nine key practices that help leaders build high-functioning and healthy teams. The author also points out obstacles and blindspots that cause resistance for less experienced managers and lays out ways to overcome these issues. The book is basic and uses simple language to explore the building blocks of being a good leader.

Notable Quote: “The biggest personal transformations and breakthroughs in leadership come from doing the work to know ourselves more. On the other hand, what we don’t know about ourselves– our blind spots– can hinder our success.”

Read From Supervisor to Super Leader, and check out more books on teamwork.

8. Everyone Deserves a Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices for Leading a Team by Scott Jeffrey Miller and Todd Davis

Everyone deserves a great manager book cover

Everyone Deserves a Great Manager is one of the most helpful first time manager books. This resource distills the art of successful and supportive management into six key practices like create a culture of feedback and lead your team through change. The book helps younger managers pinpoint the priorities when taking on a leadership role, and establishes a firm foundation to build up from. The idea behind the book is that by mastering these fundamentals, the finer points of leadership will fall into place. Everyone Deserves a Great Manager names the habits and actions that make the transition to leadership easier and make supervisors more impactful.

Notable Quote: “We know your role is difficult, but it is worth doing– and doing well– because you can truly improve the lives and careers of your team members. That’s not hyperbole. Work stress can manifest as physical, mental, and emotional challenges for everyone, including you. As a leader, you will have an impact (for better or worse) on your team’s ability to successfully overcome those challenges.”

Read Everyone Deserves a Great Manager.

9. The First-Time Manager by Jim McCormick, Loren B. Belker, Gary S. Topchik

The first time manager book cover

The First-Time Manager is an exploration of the challenges and expectations that face new leaders. The guide compares and contrasts being a star employee with becoming a leader, and clarifies the different demands of the roles. The pages are full of advice on how to hire, motivate staff, push back against pushback, and stay calm and clear-headed in crises. The book shows readers how to avoid common errors, find a personal leadership style, build teams, and gain employee trust. The First-Time Manager helps new bosses develop the resilience and tact needed to handle tough situations, and prepares emerging managers for the challenges ahead.

Notable Quote: “If appreciation is important to you in your relationship with your manager, realize that it is equally important to the people you manage.”

Read The First-Time Manager.

10. From Expert to Executive: Mastering the SOPs of Leading by Edward E. Tyson and Michael Ashley

From Expert to executive book cover

From Expert to Executive is one of the most useful business books for new managers. The guide explains how to move from a technical mindset to a team mindset and focus more on group performance than individual performance. The book clarifies different roles and duties within companies and teams to give leaders a better understanding of how each position should function. This approach helps leaders adopt a bigger-picture perspective and delegate more effectively. From Expert to Executive functions like an instruction manual to help supervisors build and oversee optimal teams and become more responsible and responsive leaders.

Notable Quote: “…as these leaders “lean in” too hard and too far into the team’s work, they can’t help but displace or knock into those who are supposed to be doing it. This is often intimidating and awkward for the team. Even when it is welcome, and the team asks for the support, it can result in lower employee engagement and the stagnation of capabilities as the leader continues laying claim to the most interesting and advanced work of the team.”

Read From Expert to Executive.

11. Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott

Radical Candor

Radical Candor is one of the best books for new female managers. Women leaders often wrongly believe that to be a boss, they must choose between being respected and being liked, or being a pushover or being labeled as aggressive. Kim Scott shows leaders of any gender how to be firm yet compassionate. Radical Candor advocates for honesty, and shows readers how to give difficult feedback and be humane when addressing tricky issues and harsh situations. The guide overturns the myth that bosses must make a choice between being nice and being strict and asserts that managers actually have a responsibility to be real with employees. The book argues that frankness can be kindness and shows bosses how to be fair yet firm leaders.

Notable Quote: “When bosses are too invested in everyone getting along they also fail to encourage the people on their team to criticize one another for fear of sowing discord. They create the kind of work environment where being “nice” is prioritized at the expense of critiquing and therefore improving actual performance.”

Read Radical Candor, and check out more leadership books for women.

12. The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier

The Coaching Habit cover

Many new leaders struggle with influencing employees instead of swooping in and playing the savior.  The Coaching Habit shows how to be more hands-off and provide guidance instead of solving problems for staff. The book preaches mentorship over management and advocates for coaching as an essential leadership skill. Beyond empathizing the importance of coaching, the book gives readers a toolkit for performing the practice effectively. For instance, how to word questions, how to listen and acknowledge answers, and skillfully use silence. The Coaching Habit helps leaders uncover the tricks of the trade that most managers learn with time and more successfully influence their staff.

Notable Quote: “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”

Read The Coaching Habit, and check out more coaching books.

Final Thoughts

Books for new managers are one of the most useful tools available to emerging leaders. Many first time bosses want to prove themselves and are too embarrassed to admit struggles or ask for help. These books often save these supervisors from having to alert higher-ups to their possible shortcomings.

Not to mention, these guides speak directly to the experience of transitioning from technical worker to leadership. The books give new bosses a heads up on what approaches need to change, skills to develop, and pitfalls to avoid. Many companies fail to provide solid management training programs early in leaders’ careers, and these books can help to fill that gap.

Next, check out habit books and books on time management.

FAQ: Books for new managers

Here are answers to common questions about books for new managers.

What are new manager books?

New manager books are resources for first time bosses that explain how to make the transition from technical taskmasters to supervisors and leaders. These books cover topics such as hiring and firing, leading meetings and assigning workloads, and motivating and coaching team members. These guides

What are some good books for new managers?

Some good books for new managers include The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier, The First-Time Manager by Jim McCormick, Loren B. Belker, Gary S. Topchik, and Welcome to Management by Ryan Hawk.

What books should first time managers read?

Books first time managers should read include HBR’s 10 Must Reads for New Managers by The Harvard Business Review, The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo, and Bringing Up the Boss by Rachel Pacheco.

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Author: Angela Robinson

Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

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