This year, as the seasons change and we enjoy fall, I’ve launched my FALL BACK TO READING SERIES. The series will feature two dozen leadership and marketing experts, who will share their inspiration in both fiction and nonfiction, and hopefully, provide the impetus to read more. To quote New York Times Bestselling author Kristin Harmel, “If you give a person a book, you give him the world.” For today’s post, I’d like to introduce Katherine Spinney.
Katherine Spinney combines her background in education, social work, leadership, and coaching to support new, aspiring, and growing supervisors to become the leaders they strive to be. Through a powerful, research-based combination of training and coaching along with a robust virtual community in The Supervisors Circle, Katherine helps managers build the confidence and skills they need to better support their teams and ultimately their clients. As a former struggling supervisor who had to teach herself how to become a successful leader, it is Katherine’s life’s mission to help others learn and grow leadership skills.
QUESTION: Which three business books have made the biggest impact on your career?
KATHERINE SPINNEY: Here are my three:
Quiet by Susan Cain: Before I understood what an introvert was or that I was one, I simply felt out of place and unsure of how I fit in as a person and as a leader. Susan Cain’s seminal work opened my eyes and my understanding about what it means to be an introvert, and more specifically, what it means to be an introverted leader. It was life-changing for me, and I recommend this book to everyone. If you are an introvert yourself, it will help make sense of some things and potentially help you navigate some areas of work life that may be challenging for you. If you do not consider yourself an introvert, it can provide a much better understanding of how to more effectively work with, for, and alongside introverts.
First Break All the Rules by Curt Coffman and Marcus Buckingham: This is another book I recommend to everyone, especially managers. It provides a different way of working with people by focusing on strengths. It really helped me approach my work in a different way and made me a much stronger manager because.
The Renaissance Soul by Margaret Lobenstine: Since I was in school, I was asked about and told to choose that one thing I wanted to do. I couldn’t ever do it because there were always so many different things I was interested in. This remains true today, and this book helped validate how that can be a perfectly wonderful way to approach work and life. A great read if you consider yourself to be a renaissance soul and/or to better understand those who do.
QUESTION: Who is your favorite author, and why?
KATHERINE SPINNEY: I don’t have a favorite author, and my interests are a bit all over the place (see The Renaissance Soul above!)
For fiction, I appreciate a good story that is well-written. Some of my all-time favorites are Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, White Oleander by Janet Fitch, Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.
For non-fiction, I appreciate insightful, well-researched content. My non-fiction tends to be focused on my work, so somewhere in the world of leadership, management, coaching, nonprofits, human service, etc., but as with fiction, I appreciate good, well-written content. That has taken me any and everywhere from Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow to Stiff by Mary Roach, from Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich to Motley Crue’s The Dirt, from Dear Sugar by Sheryl Strayed to the Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley.
Reading not only improves vocabulary and our ability to express ourselves, but it has also been shown to improve our understanding of others, and of course, our empathy. As relationships are at the core of our work and our leadership, we do not always have to read books about leadership to improve our ability to lead more effectively.
SHARE THIS: We do not always have to read books about leadership to improve our ability to lead more effectively. ~@CoachKat2017 #Reading #Leadership #DebbieLaskeysBlog
QUESTION: What book did you read in high school or college that, to this day, you still remember vividly, and why?
KATHERINE SPINNEY: Two that stand out from high school are The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas and All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren. I remember both being books that I didn’t want to put down as they completely captivated my attention. I loved being introduced to stories and books that were completely new to me and ones that I would not have chosen for myself. Plus, the writing and the stories were so strong and of the highest quality. I remember being surprised that books could be like that.
QUESTION: Do you intersperse fiction with your business reading? If yes, what was the last work of fiction that you read, and what caught your attention about it?
KATHERINE SPINNEY: Yes, all the time. When I start to read several of one type of book in a row (i.e., fiction or non-fiction), I can start to feel that I am ready for the other. It is not a schedule or timetable, but a simple listening to and responding to what I am ready to read when I’m ready to read it.
The last book of fiction I read was The Town of Babylon by Alejandro Varela. It was for one of my book groups, which is how I get introduced to a lot of books. I don’t always love the books I read for book groups, but I love the chance to try something new, and of course, the opportunity to connect and discuss the work with others.
QUESTION: If you created a nonprofit organization to promote reading to children and young adults, what would you name it, and why?
KATHERINE SPINNEY: Fabulous question! I would name it something like “What’s your story?” for it’s double meaning, both, what is the story you have to tell, and what is the story you are currently reading. Or something simple like, “What are you reading?” Wouldn’t it be great to make this question as normal as, “Seen any good movies lately?”
Thank you, Debbie, for this opportunity to talk about one of my favorite and most important things in my life. Reading is a joy and a gift, and I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss it and hear from others as well.
My gratitude to Katherine for participating in this year’s fall back to reading series and for sharing her inspiring recommendations!
Image Credit: MontyLov via Unsplash.
Connect with Katherine at these links:
Check out Katherine's previous appearances here on my blog:
Have You Ever Participated in a Leadership Book Club? (February 2022)
Leadership Is ALWAYS About Those You Lead! (February 2021)
TweetChat Highlights: How to Improve Leadership Readiness during the #COVID19 Crisis (April 2020)
How Can Leaders Help Employees Exceed Expectations? It’s All About the Culture! (August 2018)