15 Must-Read Books for Product Management Leaders

You can’t build truly useful and innovative products with constant execution and on-the-fly decision-making. It takes vision and a deep understanding of business, people, and product management.

That’s where this list of books comes in. Here are 15 books that aren’t just full of common sense and platitudes. These books will inspire you with research-backed and proven concepts of leadership, design, business strategy, and making great products.


Read them, and you’ll find yourself a better product manager, leader, and maybe even a slightly better human.

Product Management

1. Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan

Former CEO of Etsy, Chad Dickerson, says, “If you only have one book on product management, this is the one.”

In this classic product management book, Cagan, a longtime and highly successful product executive for companies like eBay and HP, draws from his hard-won insights to tell you how you know when you’ve got the right product and when you don’t. You’ll also learn how Facebook, Netflix, and Amazon develop products people love and how most tech companies are doing it wrong.

Available in print, audiobook and digital download

2. Start at the End: How to Build Products That Create Change by Matt Wallaert

Tech exec and behavioral scientist Matt Wallaert’s book tries to get companies to kick a common habit. This habit involves coming up with ideas, falling in love with them, and then forcing them on the market via expensive marketing campaigns and aggressive sales tactics. Matt offers a new framework based on behavioral science that will help you build products that actually fill a need and help people do what they want.

Available in print, audiobook and digital download

3. Escaping the Build Trap: How Effective Product Management Creates Real Value by Melissa Perri

If you find yourself spending your energy on outputs over outcomes, this book is for you.

Product managers build products, but are they taking a step back and asking why? Melissa Perri’s book explains how product leaders can only deliver real value to their customers when they spend more time thinking about the strategy, rationale, and fundamental goals behind the products they build.

Available in print, audiobook and digital download

4. The Lean Product Playbook: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Products and Rapid Customer Feedback by Dan Olsen

This book draws on the principles outlined in another great book, The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. While many people love the ideas from The Lean Startup, they’re unsure how to put them into action. The Lean Product Playbook offers practical advice on building winning products. So if you’re still finding your way to product-market fit, read this and see just how lean principles apply to things like identifying target customers, finding areas where customers are underserved, and developing a Minimum Viable Product.

Available in print, audiobook and digital download

Business Growth

5. Product-Led Growth: How to Build a Product That Sells Itself by Wes Bush

Product-led growth has been one of the hottest trends in SaaS for the last few years, and for a good reason. Founders and key-decision makers want to know how to leverage their products into customer acquisition and retention machines. If product-led growth is a nut you’ve yet to crack, pick up this book by Wes Bush.

Wes Bush is the founder of the Product-Led Institute, and in this book, he answers questions about how and when to launch free trials, how to improve conversions, and how you can nearly wipe out churn.

Available in print, audiobook and digital download

6. Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson

Freemium was the precursor to product-led growth, and while this book isn’t as cutting edge as it was when it debuted in 2009, it’s still a great primer if you’re new to freemium. In this book, Chris Anderson, former WIRED editor-in-chief, forces us to take a long, objective look at how we’re pricing our products in an era where more products and services are free.

Available in print, audiobook and digital download

7. Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Technology Projects to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey A. Moore

Originally released in 1991, Crossing the Chasm has stood the test of time and is now practically tech gospel. It focuses on how businesses can develop products that make that rare and challenging leap from cool novelties for a small group of early adopters to full-blown mass-market successes.

Tom Kendra, VP, Worldwide Data Management Sales at IBM Software Group, says, “Crossing the Chasm has contributed more to the art and science of high-tech marketing than any other book in the last decade. If you are not one of the thousands of businesses and universities incorporating the chasm insight into your operations, you have to be worried about your future.”

Available in print, audiobook and digital download

Leadership and Management

8. Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. by Brené Brown

Brené Brown is an author, podcast host, professor and researcher best known for her work on vulnerability, shame, and empathy.

In this New York Times bestseller, Brown’s research shows leaders how and why they need to breed a new culture of vulnerability. Too often, leaders think they need to know all the answers, have the best ideas, and always come out on top. In other words, they avoid vulnerability at all costs. But daring leadership – leadership that fosters risks, creativity, growth and empathy – requires vulnerability.

Available in print, audiobook and digital download

9. Empowered: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Products by Marty Cagan with Chris Jones

As any leader knows, hiring top talent is crucial, but what Empowered teaches us is that how you manage versus who you manage is often the missing key to innovation and success.

Empowered is yet another solid product management title from Marty Cagan. While some reviews note there is overlap in the concepts from Inspired, Empowered shifts focus from the process of product management to the ins and outs of product leadership.

Available in print, audiobook and digital download

10. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Other Don’t by Simon Sinek

Leaders Eat Last is a New York Times bestseller and comes from thought leader Simen Sinek who also wrote, Start with Why, Better Together and The Infinite Game (which pops up later on this list). The premise of this book is simple but powerful: leaders need to put the good of their team first, not their own self-interest. Leaders who set this kind of example establish what Sinek calls the “Circle of Trust” where teams are empowered, ready to cooperate, and do their best work for the good of the team and business.

It sounds obvious, but in a world plagued by egos, cynicism, and one-upmanship, this idea has the power to unlock serious potential within your organization.

Available in print, audiobook and digital download

Design and User Experience

11. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

This national bestseller uncovers the secret behind why some products seem to hook us without even trying. Based on years of research and practical experience, Nir Eyal offers a concrete four-step process that will change consumer behavior and keep them returning to your product.

Matt Mullenwey, the founder of WordPress, praises the book saying, “Hooked gives you the blueprint for the next generation of products. Read Hooked, or the company that replaces you will.”

Available in print, audiobook and digital download

12. The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

Product leaders have to be able to recognize good, human-centered design. This book will teach you just that.

Author Don Norman is a researcher, professor and author with expertise in design, usability engineering, and cognitive science. In this book, he’ll take you on a deep dive into the psychology of intuitive design that effortlessly guides users to the right action at the right time. Read it, and you’ll start noticing design everywhere you go.

Available in print, audiobook and digital download

13. Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things by Don Norman

This is a great companion book to The Design of Everyday Things. In it, Norman goes beyond usability to explore the emotional side of design. He shows us that it’s not enough to give customers what they need; you have to connect with their emotional motivations, aspirations, and how they want to present themselves to the world. We often hear vague advice about delighting customers – this book tells you how.

Available in print, audiobook and digital download

Inspirational and Motivational

14. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

As a product leader, you make endless choices about your team, products, and the direction of your business. If it makes you nervous that you’re blind to the real reasons behind many of your decisions, pick up this book today.

This book will teach you how you think in all areas of your life. Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahnamen reveals when you can trust your intuitive, emotional impulses and when you should lean into your slow, logical thinking.

Among the vast praise for this book, co-author of Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt says, “Daniel Kahneman is one of the most original and interesting thinkers of our time. There may be no other person on the planet who better understands how and why we make the choices we make. In this absolutely amazing book, he shares a lifetime’s worth of wisdom presented in a manner that is simple and engaging, but nonetheless stunningly profound. This book is a must-read for anyone with a curious mind.”

Available in print, audiobook and digital download

15. The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek

Infinite Game is another celebrated book by Simon Sinek. This time he walks us through the idea of thriving at a game that has no end – a concept sure to resonate with product managers whose products are never finished. It’s time to ditch our ideas about the bottom line, winning, and beating the competition. In business, the goal is really to keep moving forward, to keep growing…to keep playing the game.

Read the Infinite Game, and you’ll find yourself in a new headspace where you embrace surprises, see possibilities, focus less on the competition and more on the larger vision, and work for the good of your team and the good of the game.

Available in print, audiobook and digital download.


Are there any great books we may have missed on our list? Tell us about them by emailing content_team@productplan.com!