Leaders are readers.
Reading is a critical component to healthy, functional leadership because it is still the main way we ingest information. The emergence of audio books and e-readers has greatly enhanced the number of ways we can absorb information, but without a sound reading strategy, most leaders will struggle to learn and grow intentionally through their reading.
Leaders are readers because leaders are learners.
With that said here are 3 things I have implemented in my reading life as a leader that have helped me tremendously.
- Create a Yearly Reading Plan
Reading plans set a trajectory for a leader’s personal growth. When creating a reading plan, first select the individual categories that you would like to read in over the next 12 months. Categories will vary wildly from person to person. As a lead pastor who preaches each week, my reading lists categories are:
- Systematic Theology
- Biblical Theology
- Personal Interest
- Church History
- Pastoral Ministry
In the early months of each year, I select at least one book in each category that I will commit to reading. Currently, I am reading 3 books (1-Leadership, 1-Systematic Theology, 1-Personal Interest) and I typically try and plan my way through the year depending on what I may be dealing with at that specific point in time. Again, your category list may be very different or much shorter. That’s expected. The idea is to have an over-arching goal as a reader and to up the level of intentionality in your reading life.
2. Choose Books Wisely
The key to completing any reading plan is to enjoy reading the books on the reading plan. Choose the books you will read each year thoughtfully. I encourage leaders to start the year out by reading 2 of the shortest books on your plan. This helps build momentum. For a number of years, the first 2 books I have read each year are no more than 150 pages. Starting the year with 600 plus page book that you know you cannot complete in a month is a great way to completely stall out your reading plan for the year.
To read more books (better) choose great books and start with short books.
3. Celebrate Book Completion
If creating a reading plan sets a trajectory and choosing books wisely builds momentum, celebrating book completions helps sustain momentum. Finished that large volume? Take your wife out to dinner (this is a good idea regardless)! I highly encourage leaders to use some type of “book list app” (many are available). Keeping track of books you have read keeps the ideas and lessons learned from those books fresh. Write brief summaries after completing books or give that book away to a friend or someone who might be helped by it. As a warning: the danger here is making reading about completing your reading plan. That’s not the goal. The goal is growth. So track growth when possible. Celebrate growth.
The more you read the more you love to read.