“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”
– Harry S. Truman
I’m a proud nerd. I have always loved reading; to the exclusion of many things. It was only when I joined Toastmasters and started writing my speeches that I found my reading invaluable for ideas and conversation starters. However, as a leader, I found reading indispensable. Even though there was lesser time for reading on a regular basis, it seemed more crucial. Here’s my take on why ‘all leaders must be readers’.
A. Reading Expands Your Horizons: How many leaders/ entrepreneurs/ achievers can you connect with and learn from? Books give you a fast insight into the journeys, learnings and mindsets of extremely successful people and companies; often from different cultures.
B. Reading Gives You Innovative Ideas: Did you know about ten ways in which saying ‘Thank-You’ to your teams can boost productivity and morale by 30%? Did you know how to conduct ‘mind-mapping’ sessions? Did you know why you should walk and conduct meetings? Well, I didn’t either. Till I read books.
C. Books And Ideas Are Conversation Starters: Oh, the bane of table topics! Or what to talk about at networking events? How to make an impression? “Did you read that book on....?” “ I love this author...his/her views on running is so amazing...” – reading helps you make a deeper connect.
D. Reading Is A Stress Buster: Bill Gates famously reads for 15 minutes before going to bed. Disconnecting from your gadgets and reading is a great, economical stress buster.
E. Reading Gives Us Perspective: Leaders sometimes get caught up in linear ways of thinking. Reading helps open up differing viewpoints and fresh perspectives to a subject – adopt it or not, it makes you understand the customer or the member viewpoint.
F. Reading Makes Us Thinkers and Doers: In the age of constant consumption in social media, we have forgotten to ‘chew the cud’ – introspection and thinking is as important as executing the idea. Reading makes us thinkers as we have to visualize the idea/concept in our imagination and then figure how we can adapt it.
G. Reading Makes Us Better Communicators: Reading gives you an amazing vocabulary – three times more than non-readers. You use better words, correct words and quotes in your communication. It presents scenarios and case studies that you can use in real life.
H. Reading Challenges Us: Reading saves us from narcissism and self absorption. It gives us a macro-view of the world. It challenges our thoughts, feelings, ideas, judgements, biases, deeply held beliefs and perspectives. You can spark debates with your team with the reference of controversial topics and innovation might flow into your work. #win-win