Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Leaders are Readers

businessman reading under a tree
Nine years ago, one of my mentors shared a simple phrase that transformed my life…

“All Leaders are Readers”

The full quote is, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”
Whether you attribute this to Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, or trace it back further to President Harry S. Truman, the statement is irrefutable.

I leverage a variety of tools for my own leadership education. Through audio and video materials, books, blogs, mentorship, discussion groups and mastermind sessions, the quality of insight, knowledge and information has been phenomenal. Each has had impact. From the very beginning, though, the single most influential resource among these has been the written word.

There is no better source for leadership growth. A book is often the concise summary of an author’s lessons learned during their own journey, and these experiences of both success and failure are an incredible roadmap. Often, they also translate to a great shortcut when applied. Other books provide focused insights on key topics, tools, and skills critical to your leadership growth.

From my experience, among all types of learning, reading will provide you with the greatest opportunity for deep introspection, interaction with another leader, and the translation of their lessons to your individual circumstances.

In the article “For Those Who Want to Lead, Read” (Harvard Business Review Blog), John Coleman expands on this topic. I appreciated his insights on the wide range of the leadership benefits of reading, some of which I summarized below.

Deep, broad reading habits can catalyze insight, innovation, empathy, and personal effectiveness.

History is filled with business leaders who believed that deep, broad reading cultivated in them the knowledge, habits, and talents to improve their organizations.
  • Reading can improve intelligence and lead to innovation and insight.
  • Reading makes you smarter through "a larger vocabulary and more world knowledge in addition to the abstract reasoning skills."
  • Reading is one of the quickest ways to acquire and assimilate new information.
  • Reading across fields is good for creativity.
  • Leaders who can sample insights in other fields, such as sociology, the physical sciences, economics, or psychology, and apply them to their organizations, are more likely to innovate and prosper.
  • Reading increases verbal intelligence, making a leader a more adept and articulate communicator.
  • Reading novels can improve empathy and understanding of social cues, allowing a leader to better work with and understand others.
  • Reading leads to heightened emotional intelligence, which will directly improve one’s leadership and management ability.
Read, and Lead… in business and in LIFE!

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