For many years my firm has facilitated a book club for support staff management. Initially I was cautiously optimistic of the benefits of the program. Today, based on the significant benefits I’ve seen in others and experienced myself I’m a great proponent of the program and the growth opportunities it provides.
Book club members are encouraged to suggest books to the facilitation team. The facilitation team, consisting of 4 directors and 2 staff pre-read between 4 and 6 books. At least 2 people read the same book to ensure different perspectives. The team then meets to discuss the books read and after discussion, select the book for the book club to read. The participants have about 2 months to read the selected book and complete any pre-work assigned before the discussion dates. The discussion meetings are 90 minutes long and typically happen over lunch provided by the firm. Based on participation, the discussions typically have 6 to 10 people in them, and therefore several are scheduled. Efforts are made to have members from different parts of the firm in each group. At the discussion meeting, the participants discuss the homework and various other ideas in the book and how they might relate to our role as leaders at the firm. In each discussion there are activities geared toward the themes of the book. However, they are open ended to provide opportunities for ad hoc discussion of areas of particular interest to the group. The participants will meet again a couple weeks after the initial discussion as a follow up and to ‘check in’ on any items they have been working on as a result of having read the book.
I have really enjoyed participating in the program. It has provided opportunities for me learn a great deal about my leadership style and the leadership style of others at the firm. It has given me the opportunity to develop both my leadership style and communication skills. Most of all it has provided an invaluable opportunity for me to network and develop strong relationships with other support staff managers outside of my department.
Our book club has lasted over a decade and we have read over 25 books. I’ve listed my favorites below
Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
Good to Great by Jim Collins
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Crucial Confrontations by Kerry Patterson
The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor