Leaders are Readers

Posted on Mar. 4, 2021  /  Advancing the Profession  /   1

Harry S. Truman said, “not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” I love reading both because it’s enjoyable and it plays a critical role in helping me become a better leader.

I believe those words with all my heart. I have experienced the benefit of learning from written words and the experiences of other leaders and experts in their fields. I have felt compassion by opening my thoughts and vision to different perspectives and experiences of others through reading their stories. I have grown in capacity and ability to serve in past or current roles and while reaching for new roles. I have cried as I felt the emotion being described and brought to life through the struggles that have shaped others. I have celebrated with and gained hope from those who achieved success. I have admired and aspired to be like the influencers and leaders that I look up to.

We all know the importance of reading. We are taught that from a very young age and I even really enjoy reading. I have a variety of forms including audible, books, magazines, etc. I admit that I am a lover of books. The feel and smell of the pages, a meaningful bookmark to keep track of my progress, and a place to write if I want to make a note. There is nothing better than spending time strolling around aimlessly at a book store with a coffee and just seeing what catches my eye. I also love the option of apps such as audible that allow me to listen while driving or flying; making use of my time when I would not be able to read from a book. I have lists and goals to read books that have been recommended or that I am interested in and I intend to always be reading, learning, and growing.

Then reality sets in. My day-to-day tasks take over. My schedule becomes full. I say yes to other commitments. Before I know it, the day comes to an end, and even when I attempt to sit and read before bed, I find myself ready for sleep. However, I will not give up the quest to make this part of my everyday goals. It benefits me and those that I serve. As in many of the projects that we engage in, it required a plan, discipline, and commitment. The pandemic and our new virtual world helped to propel me toward this goal.

The annual SHRM Hawaii conference was held virtually in 2020. As part of the platform, there were various chat rooms opened for discussions and networking among other HR professionals. This prompted a conversation about starting an HR leadership book club. YES!! I was excited to see the interest that others had to also engage in this effort. It offered us a small group of leaders with like minds and goals to pursue our best selves and to grow in our profession and our leadership skills. We did not know each other before forming the book club so we have all now increased our network and support system. It holds us accountable to others, which helps me to make sure that I am ready for our time together. It offers a safe space to discuss what we are learning and how we are applying it to our lives and careers. It allows us to reflect on past decisions and how to create a better future. Most importantly, it gives us the space and time for personal growth, professional growth, and self-care. Without these important things, we can’t possibly be our best selves or serve others.

One group member shares her experience that “As an “HR Department of One,” I found the HR Book Club to be a great (and fun!) way to meet other HR leaders and learn how they handle issues in their companies while discovering new HR strategies in the books we read.”

Another group member stated "I enjoy connecting with other local HR leaders to share ideas, stories, and camaraderie. Being in HR can be lonely at times. Being with this group of curious, wholehearted HR professionals has fed my soul. They inspire me and make me laugh. It’s just what I needed after this crazy last year."

Our book club is still fairly new and we continue to get to know each other and find the logistics that work best, but the important thing is that we are doing it! I encourage you to find a way to incorporate reading into your personal and professional growth. Fit it into the nooks and crannies of your day such as driving to and from work, on your lunch break, or consider starting a book club of your own to share the experience with others!

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  1. Rhonda Pollard

    Mar. 10, 2021

    I've never been much of a book reader, but have become inspired by our HR Leaders Book Club and really enjoy the content and checking in with fellow HR people...We are all in this together, and this is exactly what I needed right now!