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Reading makes you a better leader

Updated on January 29, 2013

Reading something that I am passionate about and genuinely enjoy doing. A lot of the best leaders on this planet read a lot and widely.

The important thing is to read on a broad range of topics. Specialty in one area is a wonderful thing, but that 'Aha!' moment can often come from being exposed to different things and ways of thinking.


Did you know that reading is a great way to relax and even reading for about six minutes can reduce stress levels by as much as 68 percent?

It is really not that surprising for me to learn this because I unwind after a hard day with a good book or something I find on the Internet that is great to read. The effect that reading has on making me relax can be compared to listening to music or having a chat with friends and family.

Reading about work-related stuff is always nice, but it is when you explore and delve into stuff that you are otherwise passionate about that you develop the creativity that your mind has. Reading is not only about updating yourself and analyzing how to invest whether it is in something or your own self, but also a way that increases your emotional intelligence by leaps and bounds. When your emotional intelligence increases, it will allow you to empathize and see things differently that has a direct affect on your leadership skills and management ability.

The thing that is key to understand here is that it is actually deeper reading that brings out the best in leaders. Some of the characteristics that leaders should possess are innovation which is of course key and also insight and empathy which is so important. The way to increase these key characteristics is to develop the deep reading habit which is also broad in nature.

The idea is that education never stops and leaders that continue to read on diverse areas of interest such as the physical sciences, business and politics are very effective when it comes to leading their organization towards achieving their targets like larger market share or more innovative products. Obviously, reading will make an individual smarter and give the person a larger vocabulary that is very beneficial in improving communication skills that are so critical and also a better understanding of texts and newspapers when skimming through them.

The way I go about reading is very spontaneous and often it will be based on instinct and my mood at the particular time. I know that this is not the best way to approach it, but it opens you up to a world of possibilities. I do agree that there is nothing like actually traveling somewhere and seeing something, but reading definitely has its way of conveying emotions and thoughts that better prepare you for management and the dynamic world of business.

The problem that happens with a majority of business leaders is that due to a lack of time, they are forced to restrict themselves only to business journals and writing. Even when business leaders pick up a novel or a history book it is often by accident and not something that they planned on doing. Think differently and try to get it on your agenda to read three books that could be from a range of different topics: a poetry book, a science magazine or a biography.

A New York Times article on C.E.O. libraries shows some of the successful business leaders in our time and how varied their reading interests were. Nike's former chief executive Phil Knight who has been such a success story in our time has a private library that is in the Nike headquarters and boasts all types of volumes from Asian history to poetry.

I keep mentioning poetry because it such a theme across so many of these visionary leaders. Take Apple's Steve Jobs, for instance. His library collection reveals his passion to read books by the visionary English poet William Blake. History and the lessons of the past are also treasured by these leaders. Biographies are especially important as evidenced by the financier Michael R. Milken who has a number of papers, novels and biographies of Galileo. I guess Milken can relate to the non-conformist that Galileo was having been put in prison too.

For all you aspiring readers out there that want to get into the reading habit but cannot afford those large libraries, there are a few things you can do. The first is to find a university library or public library that is within walking distance from your place of work or residence and visit it from time to time. Another way is to read about a topic that will make you a better worker like psychology, for example. Even for those wealthy individuals out there, there is reading material that will highlight the shakiness of riches and the risks that greatness comes with.

The most important thing to do is to read for fun and be able to relax your mind.


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      Hardy 5 years ago

      This was a very insightful hub on how reading sparks innovation among other things. It is definitely something that is reserved for leaders.


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