AARC Members Explore Leadership Principles Through Book Club

 Published: January 10, 2018

By: Heather Willden


image of woman reading book

Led by the Management Specialty Section, the Leadership Book Club series is open and available to all AARC Members through AARConnect. The most recent book discussed was “Tribes” by Seth Godin.

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The AARC Leadership Book Club officially began in 2009, after growing from a state group project and initially starting as one individual’s personal interest project in 1999 to help new supervisors.

“I received permission to launch the program in 2009 and immediately it became very successful as there was a hunger for knowledge and mentoring to improve leadership skills,” said Scott Reistad, RRT, CPFT, FAARC, Ventilation Clinical Specialist in California and book club organizer. Reistad was recognized as a Fellow of the AARC in 2010 for his efforts and success with this program.

We asked members to share their experiences with the club, and here’s what they had to say.

Enhancing leadership skills

Scott Reistad, RRT, CPFT, FAARC
Scott Reistad

“My purpose of having a Leadership Book Club has not really changed from what it started out to be: To grow and enhance leadership skills of RTs who aspire to be great leaders in their department, organization, state society, or profession,” Reistad said. For Reistad, each book is unique.

Reistad feels the book club has “been wildly successful.” He enjoys participating in reading, sharing, and learning how to be a better leader each time the club starts a new book.

The book club discusses relevant topics for RT managers. Reistad often receives questions about issues that have been thoroughly discussed in the book club. Reistad hopes participation will grow as the book club continues to flourish.

“All in all, it’s one of the projects that brings me the greatest joy, as I believe that the program allows people to learn and grow and impact their departments and our profession,” Reistad said. “So many incredible leaders have volunteered to lead the discussion on a chapter that I assign them, and they have embraced their responsibility by spending quality time investigating, thinking, and reflecting on the points they wish to share with the group.”

Reistad continues to explain that he always learns “more from others’ insights about the book than just from the book itself.”


Sharon Armstead, EMBA, RRT
Sharon Armstead

For Sharon Armstead, EMBA, RRT, director clinical education for the respiratory care department at Texas State University in San Marcos, TX, the Leadership Book Club offered insight and inspiration.

“My greatest gain was insight into myself. Leadership is an ongoing growth process for me,” Armstead said. “This forum truly helped me admit to myself which level I was on, but, more importantly, accept the fact that I am still allowed to evolve.”

Describing her experience as “nothing short of wonderful,” Armstead explained that the book club inspired her to continue in her leadership journey and begin her own self transformation.

“Before we can lead we must figure the kind of leader we are, what are our strengths and weaknesses, and how do they contribute to our leadership style. This is an open forum that has some wonderful insight,” Armstead said. “I looked forward to every book and discussion.”

Armstead felt the books and principles discussed helped solidify the “concept that leadership is not in the title you wear, but truly in the person you are.” She also appreciated seeing younger members and leaders get involved in the discussion.

“You could feel the excitement they had for the profession,” Armstead said. “I loved the process because it allowed me the time and autonomy.”

A great experience

Cathy Melero, BSHA, RRT
Cathy Melero

According to Cathy Melero, BSHA, RRT, manager of cardiopulmonary and neurodiagnostics at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, the book club was a great experience. She’s appreciated the variety of books so far and looks for ways to incorporate the lessons and tips into her daily life. She also enjoyed the simplicity of how the book club operated. Posts came directly to her email, and she could even respond and post from email.

“I have learned a lot with the book club, from the books and the discussions,” Melero said. “I am a new manager and appreciate the experience that the discussions provide.”

What’s next?

The AARC Leadership Book Club will reconvene for the spring semester on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018 with a New York Times Bestseller entitled “It’s Your Ship” by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff as well as “Juggling Elephants” by Jones Loflin and Todd Musig. According to Reistad, this book discusses down-to-earth techniques, along with examples the author experienced on how one can turn around a failing organization so that it becomes one that is world-class.

“I know many leaders who are hired to do just this within their organization, so this should be insightful and helpful,” Reistad said.

Be sure to subscribe to the Leadership Book Club community and take part in the discussions. The club is open to any AARC member interested in becoming a better leader.

Email newsroom@aarc.org with questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.

Heather Willden

Heather Willden is the Director of Governance and Strategic Initiatives for the AARC where she works with state affiliates as the HOD liaison. She also manages DEI efforts and strategic initiatives. Connect with her about these topics by email, AARConnect or LinkedIn. When she's not working, you can find her podcasting with her husband, exploring new hiking trails, photographing, and spending time with her family.

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