One of the things I am looking most forward to this year is participating in our new business book club.
Of course, we’re not unique. From Oprah Winfrey’s famous club to popular online sites like Goodreads, book clubs are quite common. Because book clubs are informal, it’s hard to know how many exist, though it is estimated that more than five million Americans are in one (not including online groups).
Reading is an essential component of leadership development, broad and deep reading habits can sharpen intelligence, make you a better communicator, and improve emotional intelligence, among other benefits.
But reading is often viewed as a solitary activity. Can leaders benefit from the book club wave? I believe they can. Book clubs are a uniquely effective way to enhance the benefits of reading and come with a number of additional benefits.
These benefits can be reaped by businesspeople who join book clubs composed of friends and community members, as well as those who join clubs composed of professional colleagues at work.
First, book clubs make it easier to commit to systematic reading habits. Groups help reinforce commitment.
Book clubs have been shown to boost literary engagement in adults. If you believe in the benefits of reading but have a hard time developing a habit of reading, public commitment to a group might be just the accountability you need.
In addition, the act of reading in a community can help you read more deeply and better understand diverse perspectives. You won’t choose every book your club reads, so you’ll be forced to read genres and works you might never find on your own. Engaging with diverse business content can pull you out of your day-to-day routine and help you make connections between ideas from other fields that might be relevant to your work or life.
Further, discussing these books with a diverse group of business owners or managers can expand the way you think.
Book clubs force you to engage in new and interesting topics, and they do so by listening to people who think differently than you. And because you know you’ll have to discuss a book with your peers, you’re likely to read more deeply than you might on your own.
Finally, discussing content in book groups can make you a more comfortable and confident in professional discussions, whether these are group work with colleagues, boardroom presentations, or even team meetings. While there are countless articles on better conversations, the best and surest way to be a good conversationalist who’s able to engage on substantive issues is to practice. Book clubs offer a safe space outside your professional environment to engage on content in discussion and learn to converse more productively with others.
Book clubs are booming. And with the leadership benefits of reading so clearly known, businesspeople who want to grow personally and professionally would be wise to take advantage of the trend.
Our group can help you become a better reader, commit to reading, grow relationships, learn from diverse perspectives, and become a better conversationalist.
Our book club can be good for the mind, good for leadership, and good for business.