Leaders are learners, and learners are readers.
If you’re reading this, I consider you a “student of leadership.” As such, chances are you already understand the value (and really even necessity) of reading to further your personal and professional development. I truly believe that one’s commitment toward reading for learning and growth is a reflection of your professional maturity.
Here are some other wise words regarding the importance of reading for leaders:
“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”
—Harry S. Truman
Reasons to read: it elevates us above our current situation, it multiplies our experiences, and allows us to spend time with smart people.
—Dave Olson, StartUs
“We have to be a learning organization. And you cannot be a learning organization without being a reading organization. I would argue that in many ways the most efficient ways to learn, after personal experience, is to read. Reading is an imaginative personal experience.”
—Admiral (Ret.) James Stavridis
“….The problem with being too busy to read is that you learn by experience (or by your men’s [and women’s] experience), i.e. the hard way. By reading, you learn through others’ experiences, generally a better way to do business, especially in our line of work where the consequences of incompetence are so final for young men [and women]. Thanks to my reading, I have never been caught flat-footed by any situation, never at a loss for how any problem has been addressed (successfully or unsuccessfully) before. It doesn’t give me all the answers, but it lights what is often a dark path ahead.”
—Def. Secretary James Mattis, written in 2003
“Ultimately, the more you study [and read], the better the perspective you have for your circumstances and the greater the likelihood that you will be able to adequately prepare for what lies ahead.”
—Andrea Williams, Michael Hyatt magazine
I came to understand the value of and began a commitment toward reading to grow as a leader while at the Army’s Captains Career Course in 2013; prior to then, as a Lieutenant, I was unfortunately too immature to dedicate time and effort toward this learning resource. Now, five years later, I am still working to make my personal reading program as effective and efficient as I can, but I have certainly learned lots along the way.
My goal for this blog series is to help educate others on what I’ve learned over the years of dedicated reading and learning. I discuss a variety of habits to enact and systems to create so that you can begin a quality reading program to kickstart your learning and growth as a leader.
My topics extend beyond the bounds of consuming volumes of hard or softcover texts. I also discuss the value of online publications, the use of social media (especially Twitter), and other creative ways to learn through reading. Here are the “leaders are readers” subjects that I’ll be addressing over the coming weeks:
- Determining what to read: selecting what subjects to dig into
- Managing your reading program
- The value of reading fiction
- Different reading sources and platforms to choose from
- Reading online and leveraging social media
- Leaders’ responsibility to encourage their people to commit to professional reading and ways to do so
- Finding resources that offer quality reading recommendations to sustain a long-term reading program: introducing the 3×5 Leadership Bookshelf resource!
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