With Q1 wrapping up (if you can believe it), Kickstand has hit the ground running in 2023. Between client announcements, in-person conferences and too many media hits to count, a group of Kickstanders has been meeting monthly to read and discuss SPARK: How to Lead Yourself and Others to Greater Success.
We opened up the leadership book club to every Kickstander – regardless of title – to join in on the activities and discussions. Here are some of the learnings, takeaways, and new ideas the book has sparked so far.
There are a lot of leadership and management books out there, but SPARK stood out with its tangible advice, actions, and stories that anyone in an organization can learn from. We initially started reading SPARK together as a leadership team to reflect on our roles in the agency and beyond.
Every manager’s leadership style looks different. It’s important to value individual management strengths, styles, and processes. By completing the exercises in the book, SPARK has helped us uncover those strengths and apply them to our daily work and personal lives.
Most impactful lessons
Each chapter of SPARK focuses on one of the seven key behaviors the authors believe make an extraordinary leader. Here are some of Kickstanders’ biggest takeaways:
I found the concept of the Say-Do gap very interesting. I think this is something everyone at some point has been guilty of. Overpromising and under-delivering can potentially cause friction on teams, so having a discussion on how we can all be more accountable to our teams and ourselves was very rewarding.
Being mindful of stakeholders is something I had never thought about. I always saw stakeholders as either executives or my clients, but the exercise we did to list out all the stakeholders in our lives really put into perspective how our actions and decisions at work impact everyone around us – including family and friends, not just the people we work with day to day.
Making an impact
One of Kickstand’s core values is “We never stop improving.” That’s why we’ve taken the time to incorporate what we’ve learned into how we lead and connect with our teams. It’s not easy to go from reading to action, but through the SPARK exercises Kickstanders are planning to:
Open communications on where we’re all learning and growing. Feedback can make or break a successful manager. Nobody knows it all — so let’s grow together!
I am obsessed with the Say-Do gap. Making myself conscious of it and using some of the tips in the book has already helped me meet the expectations my teams have for me and ensure we are delivering the results we had set out together in the first place.
I try to do this already, but as we have engaged in discussions, I have made it a mission to be extra intentional in thinking about what my teams may need, and what I can do to best support their efforts as well as my own tasks.
It’s not just for managers
Overall, having the opportunity to share and discuss a book like SPARK has made a big difference across the organization. Our monthly book club meetings have given us an opportunity to engage in open and honest dialogue about our personal and professional goals. These conversations are typically saved for 1:1 meetings with managers, so getting to learn more about each other in this context has been incredibly meaningful. We’ve heard that:
Even after our monthly SPARK Book Meetings, I often hear follow-up discussions from what we’ve talked about in our internal team meetings and 1-1s with my direct reports. Being able to have transparent, honest and valuable conversations with folks I don’t always work with on client accounts has helped open the dialogue for others to discuss in weeks to come.
Having the leadership book club open to those in non-official leadership positions has been an incredible asset. Hearing those on the management team speak about their experiences and thoughts surrounding the material we have read has given great insight into not only how my peers think, but also into how we as individuals have the ability to shape our teams – regardless of what position at the agency we hold.
Feeling a little spark of inspiration yet? If you’re looking to switch things up for personal development, a leadership book club is a great place to start. While it doesn’t have to be SPARK, any book that resonates with you can provide everyone with an opportunity to learn, grow and bring value to each other.
Want to learn more about Kickstand’s unique approach to leadership? Check out our co-founders’ conversation with Insider here.