Leaders are readers. Some of you may read this and think; I’m not a leader. Hold on. Don’t be so quick to buy into that thought. If the only person you are leading is you, then that makes you a leader. Now to the reading part. Reading is one of my favourite activities, but I know that’s not true for everyone. People have told me, “I don’t like reading,” “I don’t read.” or “I haven’t read in ages.”
In his article for the Harvard Business Review, ‘For Those Who Want to Lead, Read,’ John Coleman writes ‘Even as global literacy rates are high (84%), people are reading less and less deeply.’ He points out that while literacy rates are increasing in countries such as China and Japan, this does not necessarily translate into more or deeper reading, which is a ‘defining characteristic of our greatest leaders and can catalyze insight, innovation, empathy, and personal effectiveness.’
According to UK Business Insider, Bill Gates reads fifty books per year, because it is one of the chief ways he learns. Warren Buffet reads about 500 pages a day. He says it builds up like compound interest. Years ago, Oprah urged her audience to read, achieving phenomenal success with her book club. Reading is a success principle that comes right out of the Bible. Psalm 119:105 ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.’
Last summer I set myself a goal to read two success books last month. Although I didn’t achieve this goal, I did read several books. Since July this year, I have read at least one success book per month, and I am reading my fourth book this month. I have learned more about faith, finance, civil rights, criminal justice and modern-day slavery, in the process becoming more than I realised I could be.
Remember those people at the beginning of the article? All of them are now reading and learning. You can start or increase your reading by:
- Reading for 20 minutes every day
- Listening to audiobooks while you are doing housework, commuting or walking
- Setting one day aside regularly just to read
- Joining or forming a book club
Whatever method or methods you choose, read well, read deeply, read transformatively. Remember leaders are readers.
Dawn H Jones is an HR Consultant, coach, and blogger.
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