Start a Virtual Reading Group at Work

stack of booksOne of the best decisions I ever made was to join a virtual book club of like-minded women leaders. In the past year we have read several leading-edge books that we wished to explore for our work as Coaches. Staying current by reading is something many leaders want to do, but its another time commitment in an already busy schedule. Whatever you do for a living, there are others in your company or industry who also want to read trending works – but find it hard to fit in the commitment to buy and finish a book. When you belong to a “club” you get the added motivation to do the work, as well as the added learning when you talk about what you would like to apply. It helps you remember and apply what you have read. Here are some quick tips from my experience:
– Start by talking about the goals of the book club so that everyone can feel comfortable that its the right group for them. This also helps when you begin to solicit book titles from each other.

– Decide how you’ll choose the book. We use consensus and “doodle poll” to sort our options, but you could also rotate month to month.

– Work together to space your meetings far enough apart that everyone will have time to read the book. We meet 6-8 weeks apart, depending on the time of year, what’s up and how thick the book is.

– Use virtual meeting technology. If you can see each other its bonus! We use a group call in Skype.

– Take turns initiating the call or let the one person with the virtual meeting access do it for the group. Keep your calls to a reasonable length – we meet for 1.5 hours in an evening.

– Use the meeting time to find out what really resonated for others and to talk about how what you’ve read is applicable to your shared interests or workplace.

– Make sure people feel safe to disagree with the group or have a unique perspective. That’s what good learning is about, but it can be hard – especially with workmates – to be a lone dissenting voice. Encourage people to share their own perspective and not worry about consensus.

– Consider writing a column or a book review – even collectively – for your company’s intranet site. Others can benefit from your discussion. If someone takes notes, this is easier.

Interested in what we’ve read? Here’s our list of GREAT books:
Immunity to Change – Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey; 
The Righteous Mind – Jonathan Haidt;
Self Compassion – Kristen Neff;
Listening to Bodies – Suzanne Zeman;
A Hidden Wholeness – Parker J. Palmer;
Daring Greatly – Brene Brown;
The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg;
Quiet – Susan Kain

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