“Leaders are readers”. This was one of the very first “leadership proverbs” I was told to memorize as a young leader in a rapidly growing company. I remember sitting in a seminar for young leaders when one of the VP’s from the company I worked for said: “In 5 years you will be the exact same person except for the books you read and the people you meet”. After a decade in the corporate world and now 7 years in vocational ministry, I have found this statement to be true. It makes a lot of sense. For me, as a follower of Jesus, I would not hesitate to say that our spiritual development and identity is shaped and informed by a Book we read and a community (the local church) we give our lives to.
God designed us to be shaped by relationships and reading.
But how does a healthy reading life contribute you our effectiveness as leaders?
Reading Matures Leaders
Simply put, encountering and processing the thoughts of others captured in written word exposes us to new insights that we may not have considered before. As we read of the different experiences or expertise of another, we gain insight and broaden our intellectual understanding in a powerful way and this directly informs how we lead. Your leadership is already reflecting your reading list whether you know it or not. Leaders who read regularly are constantly being exposed to new ideas, therefore they have ideas to implement on the teams they lead.
“When you find a leader, you have found a reader. The reason for this is simple – there is no substitute for effective reading when it comes to developing and maintaining the intelligence necessary to lead.” – Al Mohler
Reading Improves Decision Making
Reading is one long, ongoing conversation with the author. Every sentence we read we are either, consciously or unconsciously, agreeing or disagreeing with what we are reading. In other words, reading demands critical thinking skills and reading widely and regularly exercises the decision-making part of our brains. Yes, reading imparts information, but it does far more than that. It gives us practice in taking in, sorting through and making judgments about the information we are taking in. This is an invaluable skill in the life of a leader.
“Leadership requires a constant flow of intelligence, ideas and information. There is no way to gain the basics of leadership without reading.” – Al Mohler
So grab a book and take a break from Netflix or Social Media this week. Make 2018 the year your reading life took off.
5 years from now, you’ll be glad you did.