I love to read. I love it so much that I wrote an article about the importance of reading and leadership. But I got something wrong in that article — I only wrote about why leaders must be readers. I didn’t mention that reading can actually be the tool that thrusts you into a leadership position.
I’ve seen people within my company, Influence & Co., read (and work) their way to more responsibility and better results. Here’s how you can do it, too.
The Interview Phase: Read Everything You Possibly Can About A Company
If you walk into an interview not having at least read the company’s website, then you’re toast — I talked about this a lot in my CAREEREALISM webinar on interview dos and don’ts. But beyond the website, you should read everything you can get your hands on about the company:
- Facebook posts
- LinkedIn posts
- Any articles written about the company in local or national media outlets
- Any articles written by the company’s executives
- Posts on the company blog
- Any whitepapers or e-books available for download on the company’s site
I recently interviewed someone who mentioned something he’d read in two separate blog posts on our company blog and related the concepts in the posts to his qualifications for the position. It blew me away, and I knew he was worth talking to further.
Before Your First Day: Ask Your Direct Support And Co-Workers What You Should Read
Most likely, you’re not starting the same day you accept a new job. Use this time to prepare yourself for your role. You don’t want to jump in completely cold on day one when you have time to research. Ask your direct support and co-workers what books and blogs they would suggest you read to better prepare yourself for your first day. If they can’t think of specifics, narrow down your questions:
- Ask for articles on trends in the industry.
- Ask whether the company has any quarterly reports you can read that will let you know more about its recent activities.
- Ask your direct support what the best business book or article he or she has ever read is.
- Ask your supervisor if he or she has ever hosted company book clubs. If so, read the last few books discussed in book club.
- Ask whether there’s an employee handbook or a culture book that you can read prior to your first day.
When You’re An Awesome Employee: Ask For Professional Development Resources
Just because you’ve been with a company for a while and seem to have perfected your position doesn’t mean you’re done reading or learning. This is your opportunity to show your direct support that you’re ready for more responsibility. Voice that you’d like to learn more about your industry, your role, or other areas of the company, and look for resources that can help you do so.
- Read leadership books to help hone your management skills.
- Read business books — regardless of your position in your company — so you have a better understanding of the objectives of the business as a whole.
- Read books by experts in your industry.
- Read fiction books that will spark creativity and make you address problems from a different angle.
- Read articles that provide tangible tips for people in your industry.
Recently, one of the most senior people in our organization told me that she needed more support and education. She said that she felt she needed to learn more in order to sufficiently train her team on some of the new services we were providing. I’ve never been more proud of her.
We’re now working on a book list that she can start reading through, which we will discuss; we’re also looking for ways to further her education through workshops and conferences. Speaking up and indicating that you want to learn more doesn’t mean that you’re weak; it shows that you care enough to make yourself — and the company — better.
Whether you’re prepping for an interview or a promotion, reading can give you the edge you need. You’re obviously off to a great start because you’re here reading this — go see what else you can do. You might just be a leader in the making.
This post was originally published at an earlier date.
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