Harry S. Truman said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” He is at least partially right.
Reading by itself doesn’t make you a leader. If it did, all my college students would all be leaders. So, let’s give Harry the benefit of the doubt.
Here is a better question: Can reading make you a better leader? The answer to the question, “Are readers better leaders?” is, “yes.” But not just because they read. The answer to why readers are better leaders lies in what they read.
Better leaders are purpose-driven readers. Their reading selections are intentional. They read with the intent to improve their ability to lead.
Author Michael Hyatt wrote Five Ways Reading Makes You a Better Leader. In this article Hyatt says:
Reading makes us better thinkers. Studies show reading helps increase our analytical skills.
Reading improves our people skills. Studies show understanding others through their stories helps increase our EQ (Emotional Quotient).
Reading helps us master communication. It helps us improve our language skills.
Reading helps us relax. It helps us reduce stress.
Reading keeps us young. It helps us stay sharp mentally.
John Coleman, writing for the Harvard Business Review (For Those Who Want to Lead, Read), noted there is a sharp decline in reading among leaders despite the many benefits for leaders who read.
Coleman also notes the following:
Reading can improve intelligence and lead to innovation and insight.
Reading increases verbal intelligence, making a leader a more adept and articulate communicator.
Reading can improve empathy and understanding of social cues, allowing a leader to better work with and understand others.
Reading can make you more personally effective by keeping you relaxed and improving health.
Reading has a lot of tangible benefits for a leader, but to leverage the time we spend reading we need to be purposeful about our reading choices.
To maximize the benefit of time spent reading we need to be intentional and purposeful about our reading choices.
Here are some tips to make your reading time both intentional and purposeful:
Establish a reading habit. Set aside a specific block of time to read and put it on your calendar like any other appointment or commitment.
Read a variety of genres. If you are a business person step out and try reading a biography, a history book, or go crazy and read some Shakespeare! Be intentional about your selections.
Apply what you read. Whether the book is specific to your industry or not, look for ways to apply what you are reading to your work.
Read with others. This might be something as formal as a book club or just a friend who agrees (or even better disagrees with you) to read with you. The benefit comes from the accountability and the discussions you’ll have about what you’re reading.
Relax and enjoy. Have some fun. Relax. Yes, be intentional and purposeful, but don’t forget to have some fun along the way!
Interested in our recommended reading list? Reach out to us via email and will gladly send you a copy.