EntreLeadership Podcast Question About Required Reading

Here is a great question from an EntreLeadership Podcast listener about required reading:

Hi Chris,
A few years ago, I began giving everyone in my business resources to help them outside of their responsibilities at work. I believe that I may have started after learning about the required reading Dave has for everyone at his business. I just finished listening to the podcast with the John Miller interview and you mentioned, a few times, QBQ being one of the required books.

My question is this: How does that process work in your business? Is there any follow up after the books are given out? Do they confirm with anyone that they read them? Or more importantly, they got anything from them? I want to bump up the reading at my company even more.  Is there more I can do to maximize the experience? Thanks. Keep the great info coming! — Jim Paulson

It’s funny. You can require your team to read books all day long. If there’s no culture inside your business that supports the information, though, it’s not going to matter. The reason we have required reading in our business is the books back up the culture that we already have in place. For example, QBQ—Question Behind the Question—is all about personal accountability and responsibility.

As leaders, we are constantly reminding our team it is their job to take care of our customers and our own team. There is no such thing as “that’s not my job.” If something needs to be done, they do it!

We just had an amazing day of ministry at GraceWorks, where we worked at warehouses loading and unloading trucks that were taking food, clothing, toys, etc. to families in need. When all was said and done, some folks grabbed the working end of a broom because they saw that we made a mess in the process. Now, most people would say the ministry could clean up the mess, since we came and did all of the heavy lifting. Not us. When you have a culture that is constantly discussed and reported on, people step up and follow.

In essence, don’t require reading just because it’s a fun idea. Make sure that you are choosing books that support your core values, and make sure you’re promoting those core values like crazy with the team.

As for follow up, we do confirm that they’ve read them, and some leaders take it a step further and discuss the books with their teams.

Question: What are your thoughts on required reading in your organization?

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58 thoughts on “EntreLeadership Podcast Question About Required Reading”

  1. …make sure you give them enough time, not all educated adults can read/understand at the same speed *couch* *couch*. But otherwise, it is a grate idea, I think.

  2. Just finished reading Go-Getter. I’m going to pass it along to all the people here. Short read, great story and lessons. Anyone who is a leader should read it.

    I know some of my employees are not readers. I’m not sure how one would institute a reading program after the fact, it seems it would be easier to do with new employees. Any thoughts Chris?

  3. I like the idea of required reading as well. I just finished reading the book the Go-Getter that you sent me and I will have to read it again. It’s a good reminder of what I already know!

  4. That’s such a simple but powerful point. Required reading is information about the management, not action on the part of management. Simply handing someone a book is worthless if your culture doesn’t back it up and implement it. But many view handing someone a book as their only responsibility in establishing that culture.
    You can’t simply hand someone a book and then watch the change. As a leader, you have to be part and parcel of living out that change.

  5. What do you think about co-wokers recamend reading or giving a book? I think I will go check out Go-Getter and see if I like it.

  6. Had a intense seasonal job once for a difficult woman with a handful of us employees living and working together. She declared at the beginning of the season that we would all read “Please Understand Me” (by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates), take the personality test and then we’d all get along and it would be roses and lollipops. I bought it and read it. No one else did. She never brought it up again. The employees liked and supported each other, she continued to be her difficult self. We all knew we would never return.

    So, absolutely, the reading must be followed up, discussed, and acted upon. Otherwise, you might end up having to train new employees every season and wonder why your turnover rate is so dang high!

      1. Currently it is Entreleadership. Before that, it was a book about allowing employees to offer the best customer service possible. I’m so sorry that I have forgotten both the title and author. (Thanks a lot, hunh?) If I find it again, I’ll try to remember to post it to you.

          1. I LOVE this idea! To reward the team’s reading TMMO! Wow – I’m going to use this! Thanks for the tip! I actually had one of Dave’s top Financial counselors, Kelly Brantley, come in and speak to my team at our Christmas gathering – and then I gave them all a $200.00 gift certificate toward her personal one-on-one financial counseling if they chose to do that. BUT giving them TMMO would go right along with that.

  7. You might also require that teammates write up a short summary, using the “Net Out” format I discuss here. I use this with my Mentoring Group and it works great. I require the guys to bring a copy for every other guy in the group. It provides great accountability and forces everyone to distill their “take-aways.”

  8. The idea of required reading is just superb, especially for new team members. It sets the tone up front about what the organization is like and reinforces expectations of team members. But as someone else pointed out, it can’t be a hollow requirement with leadership modeling or supporting contrary behavior.

  9. I have put certain books on the recommended list – but for the “non-readers” have not had much luck. So…..many times I have taken the book – and given summaries of the chapters at team meetings. They hear the book through me.

      1. Misty – that is a hard question! A few classics from the past – I loved “The Power of Focus” and read it 6 or 7 times. But mainly because FOCUS is something I struggle with. Also “The E-Myth” is a good book on working ON your business instead of IN your business. Tim Sanders new book “Today You Are Rich” talks about giving back.

        1. Another book is “Six Thinking Hats” – which shows a leader how to THINK differently. I shared this book with my team – and we worked through the chapters – excellent on building communication with team.

  10. What are your thoughts on required reading in your organization?

    In our function of internal audit, we have developed the habit of reading some management/spiritual books and making one/two presentation every month. In this way, we enhance our communication and report writing skills; also, we share our knowledge gained during reading with everyone in our team. We have been deriving immense benefits out of this practice over the years.

      1. Misty! There are several good books; Picking up one would be a tough proposition. However, some of my picks for a business owner would be —
        (1) “The Art of the Start” – by Guy Kawasaki
        (2) “The Barefoot Executive” -by Carrie Wilkerson
        (3) “EntreLeadership” – by Dave Ramsey
        (4) “Bootstrapping 101” – by Bob Reiss
        (5) “Street Smarts” – by Norm Brodsky
        (6) “Entrepreneur’s Toolkit: Tools & Techniques to Launch & Grow Your New Business” – by Harvard Business School Press (7) “The E-Myth Revisited” – by Michael E. Gerber
        (8) “Developing the Leader Within You” – by John C Maxwell

        Hope I am able to do some justice to your request. You can goover this books one by one. I believe you will find them insightful.

        Subject: [closblog] Re: EntreLeadership Podcast Question About Required Reading

  11. I love the idea of required reading (of course I’m a reader)….as long as the leader makes it obvious why a specific book is required. If the reader knows why it’s important for them to read a book, they will most likely get more out of it. And it’s a great way to open the doors of communication about what the organization is all about.

  12. I read a ton, and i’m always trying to get those around to read more, wish it was a requirement in my organization. I can’t think of a better long term team building event, than shared reading. Its an easy way of explaining where the organization is coming from and where its heading to. Confirms that the organization is interested in personal growth, and a whole host of other posittive things.

    Speaking of books, loved the concept of the blue vase in the go-getter, and the fact that when it’s mentioned in your organization, everyone knows what’s it’s about. Any stories to share around that? Maybe a go-getter of blue vase story?

      1. Hi Misty,

        You’ve asked for one, but after reading the new Dave Ramsey’s book – i’m afraid i now have two tied at the top, so here goes.

        1) Dave Ramsey’s Entreleadership. http://www.amazon.com/EntreLeadership-Practical-Business-Wisdom-Trenches/dp/1451617852/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1324964399&sr=1-1

        2) Zilch: The Power of Zero in Business by Nancy Lublin. http://www.amazon.com/Zilch-Power-Business-Nancy-Lublin/dp/B004J8HXT0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1324962873&sr=8-1

        Both books addresses a lot of issues faced by business owners, and come up with some innovative solutions. Both authors offer practical advice, and their passion shines through on every single page. They both offer advice on doing more with less, stretching finances, motivating employees, getting the right people into the organization and a ton of other info that any business owner or leader can employ right away with great success. Would love to know what you think when you finally get to the read the books.

        Thanks
        ginasmom

  13. I have 3 books I buy my team members, give them to read and pay them a certain number of hours to read them because I want to motivate them to do so. I am interested in others ideas on how to achieve this when you are told: “I am not a reader.”

      1. How To Be the Employee Your Company Can’t Live Without by Glenn Shepard; 48Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller; and one of these depending on what I feel they need or might be interested in – Walking in Your Own Shoes by Robert Schuller; The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson; The Go -Getter by Peter Kyne. It has been hard to just stick to 3!

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