Why I started a book club. And you should too.

I’ve always believed reading is an essential part to any leader’s life, but participating in a book club took my reading life into unchartered territory. Rallying friends and colleagues for a book club doesn’t initially create tons of enthusiasm. As we all know, our to-do lists are lengthy and squeezing time in to read, let alone discuss the reading material, isn’t an urgent item for most. We all have people, tasks and problems clamoring for our attention constantly. Sure, I’m busy. But I can’t be too busy to miss book club after experiencing the long-term benefits. A book club opens up the floor for a mutual exchange of ideas, improves communication skills and potentially gives a place to debate something other than what’s on the news. Reading in a communal environment can help promote reading on a deeper level, provide a better understanding of diverse perspectives and learn to converse more intentionally.

Spark quality conversations

My dialogue determines my direction. Conversations are the lifeblood of leadership and feed into every aspect of personal and professional life. Whether I’m leading a team meeting, making an important announcement to the company or seeking input from key stakeholders clear and clarifying communication is necessary. Discussing content in a book club setting prepared me to be more comfortable and confident in professional settings. A book club boosts my social life as it offers me the freedom to delve deeper into relationships as I dig deep into a topic or discussion question.

Expand your knowledge…and wealth

Leaders are learners. There’s no way to circumvent that.

If you don’t want to take my word for it Warren Buffet, billionaire CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, had this to say about his reading routine, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”

Buffet doesn’t let a day go by without spending a good chunk of time reading and attributes his reading habits to his success. The same rings true for the richest man in the world, Bill Gates, who reads about 50 books per year. If there’s a correlation between wealth and reading, I definitely don’t want to ignore it. Discussing books with a diverse group of friends and colleagues challenged my thinking. Not every topic caters to my expertise, leaving plenty of room for growth and intellectual fulfillment. Depending on the genre, I pick up ideas and knowledge from people who think differently than me. When I escape my routine reading plan, I have the opportunity to absorb new ways of thinking that will prompt innovative ideas of my own and shift perspectives.

Feedback from community

I tend to have ideas and a plan for implementing them already formed in my mind. However, book club revealed to me the value in seeking and listening to others before barreling ahead. A book club is the perfect place to bounce ideas off each other in an informal environment. People are naturally inclined to help or offer advice. Others are quick to notice a possible outcome that might be in your blindspot. When developing ideas or solving a problem, it’s important to ask questions and get other people involved in the decision-making process. Fostering an inclusive environment is the key to creating a culture of trust and transparency. When others feel heard and their opinion valued a tone is permanently set. A book club is a starting block to see feedback safely embraced and community flourish.

A book club has distinctively unique benefits. Book clubs are a gateway to building deeper relationships, developing critical conversation skills, promoting diversity of thought through meaningful conversation and broadening our knowledge base. So, gather a group of friends, select a cozy place to meet and start sharing book ideas with one another.