the shape of leadership

Eight Reasons Leaders Should Be Readers

Opening a book can open new possibilities

Influence Magazine on January 17, 2019

You may have heard the phrase, “Leaders are readers.” But what does it mean? Is it true that reading improves your leadership?

Perhaps you set a reading goal this year (and maybe you’re already falling behind). Regardless, reading is a worthwhile investment of your time. Here are eight reasons why readers really do become better leaders:

1. Readers find ways to improve. There is value in reading a diverse selection of books, but some material is more helpful than others. Scripture is your first priority, of course. After that, choose books that inspire you, inform you, and shape your character in positive ways — devotionals, books on leadership and communication, and biographies of great leaders, for example. Such books can help you grow as a person and a leader.

2. Readers uncover content they can share with others. Books can provide a wealth of motivating stories, compelling facts and interesting statistics you can share with those you lead, whether from the pulpit or around the meeting table. Leaders need insight they can share with others. Readers have access to it.

3. Readers encounter other viewpoints. The ideas you read may not always line up with your own. That’s a good thing. This doesn’t mean you will change your mind. Reading another viewpoint can actually reinforce your own beliefs. It can also broaden your perspective so you can more easily empathize with others.

Reading a book forces you to rest and relax, something many ministers today overlook.

4. Readers increase their ability to discern truth. Reading doesn’t just provide you with information; it can also enhance your ability to distinguish between what is right and wrong, true and false. Good reading material, including fiction, provides valuable lessons on morality and the human condition, among other things.

5. Readers improve their critical thinking skills. Reading enhances a multitude of cognitive skills. Michael Hyatt, former chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, says, “These improved analytic tools also help us see patterns and make connections between seemingly random information. We’re not only improving our judgment, we’re also boosting our problem-solving abilities.”

6. Readers become better communicators. People communicate similar ideas in vastly different ways. As you read something new, you might even find yourself attempting to reword and relay those ideas to others. Now you’re on track to improve a host of communication skills you regularly use.

7. Readers make time to rest and relax. You cannot multitask while reading deeply. You can’t read and scroll through your phone. It takes a concerted effort to sit down, get quiet and pick up a book. Reading a book forces you to rest and relax, something many ministers today overlook. Think of your reading time as a part of your Sabbath rest.

8. Readers take up challenges. Just because reading is relaxing doesn’t mean it’s a passive exercise. Opening a book is a dare to finish it. Once you start, you feel the need to get to the end. And when you’ve read one book, you’ll want to finish the stack. It’s a challenge that leads to other challenges. And that is a great way to improve your leadership.

Whether it’s for work or fun, reading improves your leadership on multiple levels. Thanks for reading this list. Now, go read some more!

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