Yesterday, my colleague, Kristian Haugaard (@haugaards), asked on our Ugilic Google hangout; Which book should a mid-level manager new to Agile read during the christmas holidays?

My instinctive answer was Scrum for Managers: Management Secrets to Building Agile & Results-Driven Organizations by Rini van Solingen (@solingen) and Rob van Lanen (@robvanlanen). The book is a ‘how to get started’ guide and discusses many of the benefits and challenges managers face when adopting an Agile leadership paradigm.

Thinking more about the question, it gets a bit trickier to answer. Agile leadership is people-centered. Therefore, the best answer very much depends on the particular leader and the organizational context in which he or she operates. This is not to say, that Scrum for Managers is not a great book; it certainly is, but you might also want to consider the following three options.

If you already know Scrum and are looking to contribute to your company’s journey as part of a transformation team, you might want to pick up Lean Change Management by Jason Little. The book combines ideas from Lean Startup with tradition Change Management and Agile and offers a step-by-step guide to combining different frameworks to develop a customized change management process. If you face a lot of resistance to change in your organization, this book might just be right for you.

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek (@simonsinek) was suggested on the hangout by my colleague, Tore Nielsen (@torenielsen), and I immediately wished I had suggested that book. The book includes inspiring case studies, interesting research, and explains why the most successful organizations over the long-term are those in which people feel safe inside the organization. If you are looking for a story about servant-leadership and want to understand why good leaders empower their teams to function independently, even long after the leader has left, this is the book for you.

Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni (@patricklencioni) is another great holiday reading option and one of my personal all-time favorite leadership books. It is a book I think every leader would benefit from reading. The first part of the book is a story about a very dysfunctional leadership team and the second part describes a powerful model and actionable steps that can be used to overcome dysfunction. For more on this book, please read my review from four years ago… time flies!

Finally, I want to point to the book Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux (@fred_laloux). In the book, Laloux discusses that with every new stage in human consciousness also comes a breakthrough in our ability to collaborate, bringing about a new organizational model. I believe we are on the verge of a new leadership revolution and Reinventing Organizations is a great book for understanding what is wrong with the currently predominant organization-as-a-machine paradigm. For a full evaluation, please check out my recent review.

I could go on and on listing great inspiring books you could pick up and read during the Christmas holidays, but I also want to hear your input. If you could recommend a book a mid-level manager in an organization transitioning to Agile should read during the Christmas holidays, which one would you pick? Please use the comments field below to join the conversation.

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