By Michael Gunther

Last December, I presented a challenge to my team: read twelve business books as a group. The initial comments were: reading, really? Where can we find the time? What books will we be reading? Amongst many other initial comments and concerns. I presented an initial list of books (some classics, some more associated with today’s workplace issues) and we began with our first book. We are now on our fourth book and the team is beginning to understand the value associated with the discipline of reading and enhancing our knowledge as a group.

Discussions around each book have provided instant value by applying concepts to our company and our client work. We have been able to drive behavior changes and implement innovative ideas individually, and as a business, with each book completed. The discipline of meeting every other week to discuss previously read chapters has provided us a routine we all now value. I have even had team members state that they haven’t read this much since college, but realize the importance of expanding their minds in this type of learning environment.

I must admit, I didn’t know quite what to expect from this process. Early in my career, I had a leader provide a book every quarter to my team that we all read and discussed. I recall learning, but I didn’t have the perspective on how it was changing the organization that I see now. Imagine all the leaders speaking from a similar contextual perspective when discussing opportunities or challenges. I can still recollect the knowledge from my earlier career experience that shifted me as a leader and a manager. I shouldn’t be surprised that I am undergoing this once again, but from a different vantage point.

The bi-weekly discussions haven’t always been perfectly executed, but the consistency has allowed us to create the right processes and discussion protocols to analyze the current readings. The learning moments and healthy discussions have provided the team with a new level of engagement as well as critical thinking opportunities that don’t always present themselves in our day-to-day business activities. As the leader, it has been challenging to squeeze my reading in between work and my PhD program, but it has been well worth the effort. The results are already clear and I anticipate the long term value, of my team’s skill, behavior and knowledge growth, will assist in keeping us relevant to our clients.

Bottom Line

Learning and knowledge growth is not an option if you want to grow a high performing team. What are you doing to develop this philosophy within your organization? A book club may be an easy solution to incorporate within your organization and one that, I am confident, will pay you dividends now and in the future.

 

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