Teams from the youth level all the way to the professional ranks are reading books together. Business teams are reading books together. Church groups: reading together.
While I love to read alone, there's a certain energy that comes with a book discussion. You and I may read the same chapter and have completely different thoughts or reactions.
Reading in itself produces ideas, but just imagine the magnitude of ideas that come from a product group book discussion.
Today, I'm going to recommend several books to read as a team. I'm going to steer clear of sport-specific books so that this list is applicable to a wider audience.
Why Read as a Team?
Before we get to the list, here's my opinion on reading as a team.
First off, oftentimes the book is simply a proxy to get your team talking to each other. Chemistry matters in sports, and in order to have chemistry, teammates need to have a relationship with one another (and with their coaches).
Second, their is tremendous value in getting people to open up about their thoughts, fears, opinions, etc. Being able to openly discuss how a chapter made you feel, or how it struck a nerve from your past is good for you and for your team. Respect comes from both sides: the courage to share and the courage to listen without judgment.
Last, having a team read a book together is a great way for a coach to address the values of their program, to talk about the goals for the upcoming year, or to address elephants in the room. Many teams take a theme and apply it to their season. Others use the discussion as jumping off point to frame their goals. However you apply it, their are both short-term and long-term benefits for your program.
Books To Read as a Team
Stick Together by Jon Gordon and Kate Leavell
Gordon is a legend when it comes to leadership books. In Stick Together, he and Kate Leavell use a fictional basketball coach and his team to get you thinking about common bonds and what makes a group of people unbreakable.
Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
There are a lot of good stories in here about senior leaders who sacrifice for the good of the group. This is a great culture book about those intangibles that a group of people need to truly win. A lot of us may say we have them, but we don't. That's why so few teams can truly be champions.
The Power of Moments by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
This book is all about how you make things memorable. Pastors giving sermons every week, restaurants creating an experience, corporations buying holiday gifts for their staff, etc. The authors showcase how people in all walks of life have created significance in often mundane circumstances.
The Locker Room by Stephen Mackey and Damon West
The Locker Room is about two football coaches and two players that have to pick up the pieces after an offensive comment was made. Their are a lot of practical lessons in this book about unity, navigating issues, and having the tough conversations.
The Right Call by Sally Jenkins
Jenkins covered some of the greatest athletes ever in her time at both The Washington Post and New York Times. In this book, she breaks down the qualities that made them great and applies these to both sports and life off the court/field.
If you're a coach planning to use one of these books, just remember that the book choice is probably the least important part of the equation. What matters is the interaction of your team. Think about the personalities that you have and choose an appropriate format so that your loudest voices aren't doing all of the talking.
If done well, I think your team will get a lot of value out of this, learn a bit about each other, and share some laughs along the way. Good luck!
John Willkom is the author of Amazon best-selling basketball books: Walk-On Warrior and No Fear In The Arena. John is an avid reader, sports fan, and father to two incredible little girls.
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