Like most leaders, you’ve probably invested in leadership training and attended your fair share of leadership development conferences. But if you want to transform how you lead others, there’s one simple habit that all successful leaders practice, and that you can start developing right now, with minimal time and money, and an immediate ROI. That is: reading personal and professional development books.
Top leaders, regardless of the industry in which they work, are voracious readers. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, less than half the adult population reads beyond what is required for their work. According to Inc, however, Warren Buffett reads 500 pages per day, Bill Gates reads 50 books per year, and Mark Cuban reads for three hours a day. In spite of her non-stop schedule, the media mogul, talk show host, producer, actress, and philanthropist, Oprah Winfrey, still finds time to read each day and claims to “enjoy being surrounded by books.” Here, we’re discussing how what you read changes how you lead.
5 Ways Reading is an Important Part of Leadership
If you want to enhance your leadership skills and develop the same habits that the top business leaders possess, you must cultivate a practice of frequent reading. We’ve gathered five important reasons why reading is an important part of leadership and how you can start building this habit today.
1. Reading Multiplies Your Experiences
While experience breeds knowledge and wisdom, you can only experience so much in life (and, arguably, there’s only so much you want to experience in life). Thankfully, you can increase your experiences in life dramatically just by learning from the writing of others.
In addition to gaining knowledge and wisdom, reading connects you with the experiences of other people and helps you develop emotional intelligence. Studies have found that reading can help refine and increase one’s levels of empathy and expand their ability to “hold multiple perspectives in mind at once.”
To expand your perspective, make sure to diversify your reading list. These perspectives will enrich your understanding of the world and the experiences of those around you as you learn to open yourself to the thoughts and ideas of those beyond your immediate circle.
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2. Reading Gives You Access to Brilliant People
Along these same lines, reading allows insight into the minds of the world’s most brilliant people. If there’s someone you greatly admire inside or outside your industry and they’ve written a book, their written work can give you direct insight into their published thoughts, advice, ideas, and even solutions. This information can dramatically change the way you approach leadership for good. Whether you choose to read autobiographies or memoirs, you’ll be sure to walk away from that experience with inspiration and a deeper understanding of the life story behind some of your favorite leaders.
3. Reading Allows You to Contribute More to Your Team
Once you’ve gained the knowledge, wisdom and insight that comes from accessing the minds of the world’s most brilliant individuals, you can pass that knowledge on to your teams. We recommend reading with a highlighter or a pencil to capture notes and takeaways as you read through the chapters. Is there a quote that stood out to you? Or possibly a story that inspired you and directly applies to your team? Think about what you’re learning through the pages and how you might integrate these takeaways into your work.
4. Reading Stimulates the Mind
Of course, reading is like exercise for your brain and this comes with a myriad of mental benefits. Reading helps your brain make connections between the information presented in the text and your existing knowledge and experiences. These connections help you foster critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity. Studies have found that reading requires sophisticated systems and networks within the brain to operate, and using these systems and networks strengthens the brain over time. As a result of this benefit, reading also helps prevent cognitive decline, reduce stress, alleviate depression symptoms, and get a better night’s sleep (which comes with its own mental benefits!).
5. Reading Helps You Make Better Decisions
In addition to the four benefits above — access to experiences that are not your own, broadening your perspectives, channeling the wisdom of experts, and stimulating your mind on a regular basis — reading overall helps you make better, more informed, and empathetic decisions for your team. By immersing yourself in different narratives and informational texts, you get a chance to not only learn from others but also approach real-life situations with a broader perspective. This enhances your ability to analyze complex information, consider multiple viewpoints, and make informed judgments.
3 of Arootah’s Top Books for Leaders
Convinced you need to pick up a good book ASAP? We have a few recommendations.
Learn how to turn crises into opportunities with this insightful ebook by Rich Bello, the visionary founder and CEO of Arootah. In the midst of layoffs and unprecedented markets, this book provides you with a blueprint for navigating uncertainty and achieving remarkable success.
Uncover the secrets to understanding and instilling good habits and eradicating bad habits from your life with this free ebook. By identifying habits that align with your highest priority goals and harnessing the discipline you need to commit to them, you’ll pave the way towards breaking free from old routines and unlocking your true potential.
The essential success playbook for business leaders, this free e-book breaks down our proven, 10-step formula for success derived from a successful business leader’s 25 years of experience in hedge fund management. You’ll learn how to build greater success by making small, daily decisions that will change your life for the better. Define your goals, reframe stress as an opportunity for growth, build healthier habits, develop resilience and grit, and change your life!
The Bottom Line
If you want to improve your leadership skills, make time to read (or listen to) personal development books regularly. Be sure to choose diverse books, so you can read about as many different perspectives, backgrounds, experiences, and areas of expertise as possible.
Struggling to build the habit of reading? Not quite sure how successful individuals like Mark Cuban and Bill Gates find the time to read on top of all the other things they do? Simple: They prioritize their top habits.
If you struggle with building habits, the Arootah Habit Coach app can help you. As a great source of accountability, the app ensures consistency and persistence in your pursuit of habit change, bridging the gap between intentions and actions.