How a Reading Club and Meetups Can Help Upskill Your Talents

Want to nurture your future leaders, but your company or department is short when it comes to cash and training resources? One inexpensive, efficient, and underrated way to do it is to start — and follow through on, wait, yes — an office reading club. You heard us right. As Forbes describes this suggestion, which looks odd in a clickbait-ridden age, this club is more of a reading and discussion group. 

To get this rolling, gather the talents that you believe have the necessary potential, leadership skills, and motivation for career advancement. Assign them something to read each week: it can be a long-form online article, a trade journal, or a chapter on data structures and algorithms in a programming book. 

If that’s not going to cut it, tech meetups are the rage these days. For those who don’t like letting management know they’re already upskilling themselves by attending meetups in the area, global mobility specialists are only too willing to help companies see the benefits of reading for success.

Code for San Jose is a volunteer civic innovation organization that welcomes citizens, coders, designers, data geeks, policy wonks and community activists with an interest in solving community problems through the use of technology.

Whether it’s a book club or coding meetup, the important thing is that the content must be relevant to their work, responsibilities, and professional aspirations; it must also teach them something new about leadership, the business landscape, and people management. 

But isn’t book-reading supposed to be a solitary way of upskilling ourselves instead of involving other people? That is a good point but some would disagree, given that they are social animals who like to exchange ideas with other people.

Global mobility managers can help ease assignees in to the process by adding more specific topics. For those who think reading together is just of socializing, the purpose is to prepare leaders for their work environment: international relations, globalization, emerging economies, etc. Threshing out the issues and analyzing the arguments and code challenges can encourage the open expression of opinion, and create the space for respectful disagreement, instead of trolling people on YouTube comments.

Ask the group about the lessons or takeaways they had gleaned from the content as well as the discussion they just had with their peers. Summarize your findings and as a conclusion, list down individual and collective learnings. Before adjourning, give them the reading assignment for next week, and get their commitment for the next discussion setting.

This kind of reading and discussion group will compel your potential leaders to take time from their busy schedules, and actually read. More important, it would bring to their attention ideas, insights, and information that they would otherwise have remained unaware of or ignored. 

A vibrant and active conversation with their colleagues can sharpen their conversation and debating skills, open their minds to different perspectives, and prepare the groundwork for establishing ties and rapport that they can tap into, once all of them are in higher positions. And as the San Diego Reader points out, this kind of reading club can fuse these distinct individuals, each with their own separate gifts, into a harmonious but dynamic community that actually welcomes collaboration.

Addicted2Success also outlines the different ways by which the act of reading in itself grooms a person for leadership:

By enriching their vocabulary or programming knowledge, reading can make an assignee more conversant, eloquent, and articulate. The more commanding their grasp of the language, the more powerful they can communicate with and win over their stakeholders and partner communities.

The right book, novel, or article can also inspire the assignee to do better and reach for greater heights. Autobiographies of business legends like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and the other titans of Silicon Valley, for example, can give the assignee nuggets of wisdom that they can use in their daily corporate battles. Seeing how these leaders had overcome their own challenges, and risen from their own painful failures, can also boost their self-confidence.

The process of reading, digesting information, and exchanging ideas with others may take some adjustment for younger assignees who would rather learn through an online course or a video. As the global mobility manager, however, persuade them to wade into it slowly but firmly. As the next few months and even years will show, being part of a reading and discussion group is an investment worth having. Just ask Warren Buffett; the most successful investor of our time reads on average 500 pages a day.