Tuesday Tip: Fit bodies, fat minds

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The Problem: Fit bodies, fat minds

My team aren’t reading…which means we might not be learning! “My team aren’t reading and I fear that will impact on our ability and need to learn” said a CEO to me recently.

It is a legitimate concern when one understands the fundamental importance of learning in building the capacity for adaptive leadership and being future-fit. Leaders read. Learning organisations have institutionalised a reading habit – it has become an essential part of their DNA and not to read, is not to fit with the organisational culture.

Executives across the board have become lazy when it comes to reading and harnessing other digital forms of knowledge acquisition. It is a neglectful habit that will catch up with both them and the organization. It has become a case of ‘fit bodies and fat minds’ and if you don’t believe me, just ask your team what they are reading and more importantly, how they are translating that into every day practice.

The answers you get might shock you!

The Solution:

Every CEO should have a reading audit in his or her team and it might take some hard work initially, as does any initial burst of exercise, but the long-term results make it worthwhile.

How do you develop a reading culture in your team? How do you ensure that the good gained permeates throughout your entire organization?

Here is how:

  1. Pick the categories or detail specific areas on which to focus and agree on reading allocations and responsibilities. The chances are your team may just think you are joking and so you may need to hold them accountable.
  2. Determine the best publications to be reading / authors to follow in each category
  3. Decide on a way to capture the best of the content and record your questions
  4. Build internal vehicles to engage with those questions
  5. Make select questions part of your Executive agenda

A further suggestion that I have seen work well is to start a book club at work. Invite your readers to read on behalf of the company. Find a way to allow them to meet regularly, sift the best ideas and then channel those ideas into the organization.

I know of an executive team who would entertain the best ideas from the book club at their monthly meeting. It fed a constant stream of new ideas into the organization and the entire process that underpinned the cultivation of ideas also served to develop people, provide a strategic voice throughout the organization and contributed to the development of a learning culture.

To busy to read? Then you are too busy.

Leaders read.

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