He ain't no Oprah; but he's definitely a force to reckon with. At Aflac, at least, he's the senior vice president and CIO-and, like Oprah, he likes books. In fact, Gerald Shields likes books so much he established a lunchtime book club several years ago for his entire IT leadership team. Every week, some 50 or so Aflac IT executives, directors and managers attend the one-and-a-half-hour meeting."It's more than just a book club," says Shields. "It's a way for me to invest in our people." Shields has been CIO at Aflac since last July. And, before that, since 2002, he was vice president, information technology-enterprise services at the Columbus, Ga.-based insurer best known for its lovable quacking duck.

The fact that the book club is an investment in people becomes clear when you look at the reading list (see "Gerald's Reading List," page 24). No mindless romance novels or escapist thrillers here. These are serious, thought-provoking business books, including the long-time best-seller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Shields selects each book because he believes it can serve as a catalyst for discussion about what it means to be a leader.

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