“Leaders are learners” is a quote that I have heard over the years more times than I can even begin to count. For me, personally, it has become a bedrock principle that I have embraced and have sought to incorporate into my daily life over the years. However, to be completely transparent, I will say that I am nowhere near where I probably should be or even need to be in fulfilling the practice of being a daily learner as a leader. I am grateful though that while I may not have it all down the concept and practice of being a leader that is actively learning is alive and well within my life.
Some of you may find yourself in a similar place when it comes to being a leader that learns. You’re in pursuit of this daily practice but realize that for whatever reason you just aren’t quite there yet. If that is true for you then I want to encourage you in a simple practice that everyone should be including in their learning process. Really, if you find yourself doing nothing else when it comes to growing and learning as a leader you will want to do at least this one thing. What is it? Reading. I know, groundbreaking right? But, before you dismiss this article and move on to something else a little bit more “sexy” in nature hear me out for a minute. Reading as a leader is extremely important.
Reading has the ability to unlock the creative juices of leadership in ways that few other practices can. It also helps provide a platform for continually building and strengthening the leadership foundation that you are building your leadership life on. There is something special about being intentionally focused on consuming a book both visually and mentally that allows you to push aside all other distractions and bring to the forefront that which is most important to you and to your organization in the area of leadership, you becoming a better leader.
I know some will say things like, “But, I don’t like to read.” or “I don’t have time to read.” or “I already know what I’m doing.”
While those are all common excuses for not being an active reader, at the same time they are all pretty lame excuses as well. I don’t want to get too deep into this but I will say that if you find yourself as a leader without the practice of actively reading for the purpose of growing as an individual and as a leader then you need to know that your leadership effectiveness is going to be short lived. When you disengage from the practice of being an active reader then you have begun the process of eroding your ability to lead effectively and eventually, you will suffer as the leader, your team will suffer, and your organization will suffer. And you know what that leads to right. CAREER CHANGE!
So, here is the challenge. Invest in the practice of reading at least one book a month that will contribute to your leadership effectiveness. According to the Pew Research Center, “75% of Americans 16 and older read a book last year.” While, at the same time other research has shown that most successful leaders express that they read between four and five books a month. Even still, it has been said that great leaders like Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Rick Warren, and countless others maintain the practice of reading a book a day. Some of the greatest leaders of history have been great readers. You may not be able to read a book a day and reading four or five books a month might seem like a stretch right now, but surly you as a leader can implement the practical goal of reading at least one book a month. So, set your passion on growing as a person and as a leader and enjoy the journey of becoming an avid reader.
Here is your NEXT STEP: Get a good book that you believe will grow you as a person and as a leader and then get to reading.
Make room in your schedule for being an active reader and you will make room in your career for advancement.