Why (and What) You Need To Be Reading If You Want To Be Leading

Posted by:

My favorite quotation (and yes, the word is “quotation;” “quote” is a verb, thank you) from Harry S Truman (and no, there’s no period after the “S,” because it’s not an abbreviation; “S” was his entire middle name — my goodness, I’m being irritatingly picky today!) is this one:

“It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

But my second favorite quotation from Harry S Truman is this one:

“Not all readers are leaders…but all leaders are readers.”

(Before I go on, perhaps I should point out that we’re talking about “leaders” here, not “people who happen to have the title of ‘leader.’” They are not necessarily the same thing.)

It’s a simple equation: if you want to be a great leader, you need to be a great reader.

In a wonderful article from StartUs Magazine, Dave Olsen outlines five reasons for leaders to be readers:

  1. Reading elevates us above our current situation.
  2. Reading multiplies our experiences.
  3. Reading allows us to spend time with smart people.
  4. Reading can quickly build our expertise.
  5. Reading gives us an escape.

If at least three out of five of these reasons don’t excite you, then you have no business calling yourself a leader. That’s because most of these reasons are about growth, and if you’re not interested in growing, then you shouldn’t be in a position of influence over others. Period.

All of this, of course, begs the question: what should you be reading?

That’s up to you. But over the years I’ve developed a loose system for myself, and I invite you to steal it (or any part of it) for yourself.

My “system” is this. I always have a least four books going at any given time:

I’m not saying you need to be reading four books all the time. But if you want to be a leader, you do need to read. Reading needs to be a priority, and it needs to be scheduled on your calendar.

Because Harry S Truman was right.


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
  Related Posts