Building A Community of Practice: How Are You Contributing to Our Learning Organization?

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Would you consider your organization and the people that comprise it as a learning organization? Personally, as a member of the US Army, I absolutely believe that we strive to be a learning organization. Amidst the myriad of ways that organizations can establish themselves as a learning one with systems and methods to do so, I want to address a critical question to you: what, then, are you doing to contribute to your organization’s learning? In professional networks, this is called “building a community of practice.”

A community of practice is a group of people who are bound together by the passion of some thing or practice, and desire to learn how to do it better as they regularly interact. Would you consider yourself a member of a community of practice? I argue that in reading this and subscribing to 3×5 Leadership, you are a member of a community of practice for organizational leadership, working to improve your organization and your life through leadership.

So, how are you contributing to your community of practice? There is a difference between being a member and actually contributing; the community is only valuable, and the organization is only learning, if its members are contributing. Continue reading → Building A Community of Practice: How Are You Contributing to Our Learning Organization?

Leaders Are Readers Part VIII: Introducing the New 3×5 Leadership “Bookshelf!”

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This is the conclusion of a series addressing the value of reading for leaders’ personal and professional development. You can begin the series with Part I: Introduction HERE.

Now, after seven weeks of sharing my lessons on professional reading, it is time to put my words into action!

Introducing the new 3×5 Leadership Bookshelf reading resource!

The 3×5 Leadership Bookshelf page is a comprehensive resource regarding all things related to professional development reading. It will be a “living” page on the blog website that is routinely updated to give you the best reading content possible. Continue reading → Leaders Are Readers Part VIII: Introducing the New 3×5 Leadership “Bookshelf!”

Leaders Are Readers Part VII: Your Responsibility to Inspire Others

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This is Part 7 of an eight-part series addressing the value of reading for leaders’ personal and professional development. You can begin the series with Part I: Introduction HERE.

The previous six parts to this series have aimed to inspire and equip you with tools to initiate or improve your own personal reading program to grow as a leader. However, I argue your next challenge is to do the same for your people. Whether in a formal leadership position or not, you can easily influence subordinates, peers, and even superiors alike to engage in professional development reading through simple conversation and deliberate behaviors.

You have a responsibility to inspire and equip them to take responsibility for their own leader growth and to commit to reading. Self-discovery toward improved professional maturity (the Army’s self-development pillar) must be encouraged and supported by caring leaders who invest in their people. Ultimately, this emphasis will improve your organization’s overall professionalism, commitment to improvement (being a learning organization), and ultimately the results you achieve. Continue reading → Leaders Are Readers Part VII: Your Responsibility to Inspire Others

Leaders Are Readers Part VI: Reading Online & On Social Media

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This is Part 6 of an eight-part series addressing the value of reading for leaders’ personal and professional development. You can begin the series with Part I: Introduction HERE.

Here are the amounts of time it took for entertainment and social media platforms to reach 50 million users:

  • Radio: 38 years
  • TV: 13 years
  • Internet: 4 years
  • Facebook: 5 years
  • iPod: 3 years
  • Twitter: 9 months
  • Instagram: 6 months
  • Angry Birds game: 35 days
  • Pokémon Go: 19 days

Our world, the way we spend our time, and the way we receive information is changing. That is easy to see, both in the statistics above and in our own lives. The way we learn should evolve as well.

Our reading programs, and the tools and systems I’ve discussed so far in this series, are ultimately about learning and growing as professionals. Our means of learning should adapt with our environments, meaning books alone (though incredibly valuable) should not be your only source of “learning through reading.” We need to diversify our sources of information and reading. Here are some other great resources to incorporate into your own professional reading program. Continue reading → Leaders Are Readers Part VI: Reading Online & On Social Media

Leaders Are Readers Part V: Expand Your Source Horizon

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This is Part 5 of an eight-part series addressing the value of reading for leaders’ personal and professional development. You can begin the series with Part I: Introduction HERE.

I try to commit to reading 30 minutes a day toward my personal reading program (outside of daily Biblical devotion time). Though that doesn’t sound like much of a time consumer, it is still somehow hard to enact that each day. Life happens and ends up having other plans for me, which I’m sure you can easily relate to. It often becomes challenging to find 30 quiet minutes a day to read.

Thus, I’ve learned to leverage audiobooks to use the times in each day where I am busy, but with mindless activities where I can enjoy an audiobook. Continue reading → Leaders Are Readers Part V: Expand Your Source Horizon

Leaders Are Readers Part IV: An Argument for Fiction

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This is Part 4 of an eight-part series addressing the value of reading for leaders’ personal and professional development. You can begin the series with Part I: Introduction HERE

If you’re like me when I started my professional reading program, I consumed volumes of nonfiction, without even a thought about fiction. When considering fiction books, I think of fantasy series like Harry Potter or Hunger Games; not necessarily books that contribute to leader development (though Angry Staff Officer makes a good argument in writing the many leadership lessons of Star Wars).

There are obvious reasons to read certain nonfiction such as biographies and history, which certainly equip us with knowledge and skills of past events. However, I have recently learned the immense value that fiction can bring to my professional and personal development.

Now, there are two “types” of fiction relevant for professional development and I think it is necessary to address both: historical fiction and science fiction. Continue reading → Leaders Are Readers Part IV: An Argument for Fiction

Leaders Are Readers Part III: Managing Your Reading Program

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This is Part 3 of an eight-part series addressing the value of reading for leaders’ personal and professional development. You can begin the series with Part I: Introduction HERE

Like almost all things in life and work, to grow as a leader through reading requires a defined management system to ensure long-term sustainability and effectiveness. I’ve found that a quality personal reading program requires a tracking system and a means to maintain the lessons learned from the books you read.

Keeping Track

As of this writing, I have 217 books on my to-read list right now. That is years-worth of reading; so, how do I manage such an extensive list and know which of those to read next? Continue reading → Leaders Are Readers Part III: Managing Your Reading Program

Leaders Are Readers Part II: Determining What to Read

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This is Part 2 of an 8-part series addressing the value of reading for leaders’ personal and professional development. You can begin the series with Part I: Introduction HERE

As I stated in Part I, I came to find the value of reading for my personal and professional development in 2013. My dilemma then, however, was determining what to start reading; I really didn’t have an idea of where to start. I was at the Army’s Captains Career Course at the time, so I began reading what my instructor was reading (East of Chosin: Entrapment and Breakout in Korea, 1950; highly recommend!) and what was on the Engineer Commandant’s reading list, which was the first “professional leader reading list” I ever encountered (I started with The Existential Pleasures of Engineering; I don’t recommend as your first book attempt…).

In time, I’ve learned a better way to approach what topics to read about: read on what you’re passionate about and is relevant to your life. Continue reading → Leaders Are Readers Part II: Determining What to Read

[168 Series] “Remember How Much Nothing We Used to Do?”

3x5 Leadership 168 Series The Military Leader

This is Part X, the conclusion, of the “168-Hour” series addressing how leaders spend their available 168 hours per week to grow and develop. You can begin this series with Part I, here.

By Andrew Steadman, author of The Military Leader

Writing about time can make a person a bit of an existentialist. The act of tallying and cataloging (not to mention publishing) life’s activities into discreet portions inspires a notion that there is freedom and control over those activities: “I choose to get seven hours of sleep every night and make it so.” “I leave work at 5:30 everyday.” “I get up at 4am to read. And I never miss a morning because I’m hungover from the St. Patrick’s Day party…” This averaging process grants more credit than most of us deserve.

Generally, I am not as disciplined as I want to be, nor as focused, nor as productive. I have plenty of projects and ideas out there, many in Evernote and Moleskine, just waiting to be brought forth. And I always seem to be fighting for time to accomplish them. Perhaps, though, the enemy is not a lack of time, but a lack of focus. Even when I do allot the requisite time to accomplish the next important thing, the unceasing rush of shiny objects sabotages my intent. Continue reading → [168 Series] “Remember How Much Nothing We Used to Do?”

Leaders Are Readers Part I: Why We Read

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Leaders are learners, and learners are readers.

If you’re reading this, I consider you a “student of leadership.” As such, chances are you already understand the value (and really even necessity) of reading to further your personal and professional development. I truly believe that one’s commitment toward reading for learning and growth is a reflection of your professional maturity.

Here are some other wise words regarding the importance of reading for leaders: Continue reading → Leaders Are Readers Part I: Why We Read