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5 Best Books a CTO/CIO Must Read (and 3 they shouldn’t)

17 February 2023
8 min

C-level information technology positions are always challenging, as only a few software engineers can take over the gravity of the job while having an adequate skill set and sufficient experience in the field. Apart from technical leadership, they are also responsible for hiring people and setting up engineering teams. While this may be a huge challenge for some CTOs, tech recruitment is the daily job of our company Alcor. Specializing in senior, lead, and executive position search for tech startups and IT giants in Eastern Europe, our 40+ recruiters and researchers have gone through thousands of interviews. We developed a solid knowledge base on hiring not only software developers but top tech managers as well, hence know the ropes of this position. 


Continue reading this article if you want to draw valuable experience through must-read books for the top management of a tech team!


Criteria for the Top Books of CTO/CIOs and Tech Leads


Books that gather the experience of the CIO or CTO from technology companies let you explore what other tech executives have overcome in their leadership journey and find solutions to your own challenges. Moreover, CTO leadership books may also introduce essential skills to you, such as:

  • Team management
  • Project management
  • Strategic thinking 
  • Leveraging new technologies
  • Understanding programmers
  • Diplomacy and patience
  • Leadership
  • Communication

Each book for engineering managers that was added to this list is a personal recommendation of Alcor managers, our clients, and tech executives of other successful IT companies. We also considered such factors as the latest technical trends, relevance to the market, expertise of the author, as well as editorial reviews. This “Top 5” covers different fields from psychology to product development that ensure the success of top management in their workplace. 


CTO books - Alcor BPO


It’s worth mentioning that we do not provide links to the books for CTOs to advertise the readings. What we do provide is the valuable asset of practical knowledge for a lifetime. So, keep up with reading this article and discover books full of insights for CIOs to help you grow into a strong tech lead. 



Top Books for CTO/CIOs and Tech Leads


#1 Grit by Angela Duchworth


We would like to open our list of best books for IT CIOs and CTOs with a book about the right mindset, which is a base of innovation in tech. In her instant New York Time bestseller, Angela Duchworth promotes the idea that true success is much more than just a “genius” but a true synthesis of life-long commitment and passion to your job. She shares some insight about acquiring resilience despite confronting obstacles and distractions, finding the golden mean between struggling and ecstasy in practice, and ways to develop patience. “This book doesn’t give specific answers, but gives you values by which to find solutions,” says Max Lytvyn, the CEO of Grammarly in describing the book Grit.


#2 Who by Geoff Samart and Randy Street 


This book is about staffing your company with the right specialists. Who presents Samart and Street’s A Method for Hiring, which is based on more than 1,300 hours of interviews with more than 20 billionaires and 300 CEOs. It is among the best books for CTOs to teach you how to define your goals, keep you away from “voodoo hiring strategies” and ask the right interview questions to dramatically enhance your ability to quickly distinguish qualified talents.


The book was recommended by Oleg Rogynskyy, CEO of, a software product company that develops an AI platform for B2B sales optimization. The company had a goal to hire professional software engineers in Eastern Europe and decided to delegate the tech recruitment responsibilities to Alcor. And guess what? It was a right choice as the results exceeded expectations: Alcor hired 25 specialists for software engineer positions, as well as provided the full cycle of support in legal compliance, finance management, and real estate.


#3 Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal


The book everyone in Silicon Valley is talking about” is how this work is described by Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, founder of The Next Web. Hooked is the culmination of Nir Eyal’s years of research, consultancy, and hands-on experience. Through examples from the iPhone to Twitter, Pinterest, and Bible App, the author explains the four-step “hook cycle” of creating habit-forming products: trigger, action, variable reward, and investment. This book is definitely a CIO-must-read work as it focuses on understanding how to guide a better product which is a crucial part of business success. 


#4 The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth by Amy C. Edmondson 


Innovation and talent development can only flourish in the culture of psychological safety, which is no longer an aspirational concept but an actual operational need. This is the main idea of The Fearless Organization, a book based on 30 years of extensive research by Amy C. Edmondson, Professor of Leadership at Harvard Business School. In this work, tech managers can find a practical guide for making each team member ready for interpersonal risk-taking and speaking up their opinion. The book will be of use not only for the Head of Engineering but also for any business leader who strives for high performance in the modern economy.  


#5 Six-Word Lessons to Think Like a Modern-Day CIO: 100 Lessons CIOs and Tech Leaders Must Embrace to Drive Business Velocity by Jim DuBois 


Jim DuBois is the former CIO of Microsoft with 30 years of experience in software engineering and team management. In his book, he intertwines the topics of the art of building relationships within the IT team, assembling the right software development strategy, and driving major transformations to accelerate modern IT business. Through 100 short stories, the author shares his wisdom in a straightforward, honest, and insightful manner. Analyzing the common pitfalls of tech companies, this piece of writing is definitely among the best leadership books and should be on the shelf of any IT leader from the Director of Engineering to a Product Manager or VP of Engineering.



Top Books for CTOs That are OK to Skip 


It feels a bit weird to suggest that someone not read a certain book. Yet, the truth is that some books lack information consistency, do not match the interests of technical executives, or are just plain outdated. So, here are the books for tech leads that we do not recommend for reading:


#1 The Corporate Magick by Bob Johnson


The concept of what Bob Johnson calls “magick” is simple: it is basically magical spells and ceremonies that the reader can visit in order to advance their work agenda. The author teaches us a step-by-step manual for achieving success that unites the ancient “magical” world with modern corporate culture. However, modern IT companies do not have much in common with ancient tribes. Therefore, this book is not the best source of learning about soft skills for working in a leading position in the tech industry, which is proven by controversial reviews of this book and quite low sales


#2 Modern CTO: Everything you need to know to be a Modern CTO by Joel Beasley  


Despite the fact that this book by Joel Beasley Modern CTO got some publicity because of the eponymous podcast, it reminds people of a series of social media posts due to the author’s casual writing style. The stories about tech giants do contain useful insights, as they are not elaborated upon enough to give the reader a full perspective on actual trials that a CTO might face. Moreover, the stories presented in the book do not have inner coherence which certainly doesn’t provoke the desire to read this book from cover to cover. 


#3 CTO/CIO Bible by Rorie Devine 


If you are a strong reader and enjoy concentrating on a book for hours, then the CTO/CIO Bible might not be a good match for you. Some people finish this book in an hour as each topic is not much longer than a PowerPoint slide. The book won’t provide you with frameworks for operating on a C-level role in the tech industry. What it offers is a series of short learnings from some cases that not every CTO/CIO would find helpful or even relatable to their problematic cases. 


Do You Need to Expand Your Team With the Best IT Talents?


Qualified software development managers are the core of any prosperous tech team. And as a global tech talent shortage gains momentum, our IT recruiters are ready to hire perfect candidates for senior or C-level positions in Poland, Romania and Bulgaria in the most cost and time-efficient way. Thus, when a French software tech company Ledger needed to hire a Deployment Lead for their offshore team in Eastern Europe, we managed to promptly find the right candidate using IT executive search. In less than two years, our 10 best tech researchers and recruiters assembled a team of 26 developers, including QA Manual and Automation engineers, and needed on average 8 CVs for each accepted offer.


Other than that, Alcor helped Dotmatics, a USA-based scientific software product company, establish their software research & development center in Eastern Europe. Dotmatics also delegated the full-cycle recruitment process to our agency, and the first vacancy that we closed was a Director of Engineering. This candidate still operates in his position and helps the client’s team to hire new software developers. What’s more, we assisted the client in hiring 23 tech specialists in just 1.5 years. Throughout the hiring process, our team was constantly in touch with Dotmatics’ main office, providing them with weekly hiring progress reports on proceeded candidates’ CVs and results of conducted interviews. 

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🔍 What can books for CTO/CIOs teach you?

They can introduce you to essential skills like remote project management, strategic thinking, leveraging new technologies, understanding programmers, diplomacy and…

🔍 What are the top 5 best Books a CTO/CIO must read?

I highly recommend reading Grit by Angela Duchworth, Who by Geoff Samart and Randy Street, Hooked by Nir Eyal, and other equally interesting books.

🔍 What are some books for top management in IT that are not worth reading?

To my mind, books not worth spending your time on are The Corporate Magick by Bob Johnson, Modern CTO by Joel Beasley, and CTO/CIO Bible by Rorie Devine.

🔍 How can I hire a good engineering team?

Consider seeking help from an experienced IT recruitment agency that has years of experience in hiring senior and management positions in the chosen location.

Contact Us

Contact us to receive a free analysis of your positions!

It includes the salary ranges and availability of the requested developers in Poland, Romania, and other countries in EE (as well as time-to-hire metrics and other KPIs for your case).

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