How a Book Club Helps with Team Building

Leaders read. They read for new insights, latest thinking, creative inspiration and exposure to different perspectives, just to name a few. As such, a book club at work can be a valuable tool. How so?

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” ― Harry Truman

A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of being at an event with Madeline Albright, former United States Secretary of State. During her talk, she referenced a book she had read to further her knowledge of the middle east. That book, as she told us, was a recommendation from her boss President Clinton. With humor, she commented about the importance of following through on a reading recommendation from your boss.

She went on to note that reading expands knowledge and offers insights. That comment got me thinking about something I did as a first time manager. I started a book club with my team. It was a way for us to rally around learning, share common experiences and build cohesion.

I will admit to being fearful of this idea. Would they reject it? Would it be too much on top of everything else they had going on? In spite of reservations, I shared the idea and asked for their input. They enthusiastically embraced the book club and carried forth to design an inclusive and engaging structure.

Designing a Book Club

First they established our goals:

  • Bring us together
  • Help us grow professionally

Next they defined three objectives:

  • Enhance our skills
  • Shed light on new methods
  • Open up to new perspectives

Then they outlined the logistics.

  • Held every other month to give plenty of time for reading
  • Book selection and facilitation of the book review rotated from team member to team member, so everyone had a chance to lead
  • 45-minute meetings to discuss the book

Results from the Book Club

The book club was a tremendous success. People embraced it, coming prepared for the discussion and engaging in the shared experiences. The benefits found were many, including team building, improved communication and professional growth. We also learned new things, experimented with new concepts and became thought-provoking agents for new ideas.

Years later one of the leaders who worked for me started a book club with her team. Just as I experienced, her team engaged in the club and enjoyed the benefits.

What might a book club bring to your team?