Leaders Should Be Readers

I was 19 years old and driving with a friend from Portland Oregon to Seattle Washington when he asked me if it would be ok to listen to a leadership CD by John C. Maxwell. Since we were driving in his car I couldn’t say no, so I said sure. Looking back, it was the best thing that could have happened to me at that time; because it ignited a spark to learn about the topic of leadership. This is when I first started to read books on leadership. I started to read every book on leadership I could find. I have found at least 3 reasons why every leader should read books:

  1. It raises their leadership potential.
  2. It allows them to move forward, toward the next level and success.
  3. It brings value to your people and organization.

The past 1 ½ years I have not read as much as I had previous years. I never stopped reading but the amount of reading greatly dropped. So I have decided to set (Reset) a daily reading goal. My goal is to read 25 pages or listen to 30 minutes of an audio book, every day. Here is what I did and what you can do if you want to refocus or jumpstart your reading:

I bought some books- I started by buying Linchpin by Seth Godin, 5 Levels of Leadership by John Maxwell, Good to Great in God’s Eyes by Chip Ingram, and The Great Depression Ahead by Harry S. Dent. I can see the benefits of buying some books to jumpstart my goal. I also put together a book list of books I want to read in the near future.

I made it a priority- I’m not allowing the distractions of being online or watching TV to prevent me from reading.  I also allow for maximum learning by Being Productive In My Car.

I have committed to my goal– I have made it a point not to end my day without reaching my reading goal, even if that means losing sleep.

I’m prepared- I make sure to have a book near me. I also added the www.Audible.com app on my phone. So whenever I have some time, I’m able to read or listen to a book (I’m listening to, It’s Your Ship by D. Michael Abrashoff on Audible).

Question:  Do you have a reading goal? Do you need to make one or reestablish it?

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40 thoughts on “Leaders Should Be Readers

    • Setting time to read is one of the hardest things to do but it’s so essential and beneficial. At least your still reading, most people don’t read anything after their schooling. a book a month is still good. Thank you for stopping by.

  1. Awesome! I will check out some of those books, please let me know how you like them, I am always looking for good books to read. You might check out BookSneeze, it is a great option for bloggers to read new books for free (my husband and I are on a fixed budget and this satisfies my craving to read)! The 360 Degree Leader was on there for review but I didn’t get the opportunity to read it.

    One book I read this year (not through BookSneeze) is one of the best books I have ever read! I highly recommend it to anyone, especially leaders: “Bonhoeffer: pastor, martyr, prophet, spy” by Eric Metaxas.
    I can’t say enough about his man (except be care what other books you read on him, I have heard that some progressives have twisted his words to meet their agenda’s. I haven’t read any other books by him or about him yet, but I have a few on my list- hoping to get one in my stocking!)

  2. Great goals to have Dan! Over the last 2 years I have seriously bumped up my reading. For me, it was all about making it a priority.

    I wish you well on your renewed goal!

    Also, one habit I have found beneficial is to re-read books you have already read. You will be amazed by what you missed or forgot on the first or second read-through.

    • Thank you Joe, I look forward to making it a higher priority.

      I have just started thinking I should go back and re-read some of the books I have read before. I know I would gain new thoughts and ideas if I do. Thank you for mentioning it.

      • You’re welcome. One of the podcasters I regularly listen to, Kevin Miller, mentioned it. And then it was one of the first things I read in How To Win Friends and Influence People.

        The reasons for doing this are many. I have found the main benefit is the repetition. It is how we learn well yet we rarely do it in reading.

        • I’ll have to try and listen to that podcast. How To Win Friends and Influence People is such a great book. I have a couple books in mind to re-read.

          Repetition is such a great way to learn. Also I could see that re-reading allows you to see things you might have missed or would not have thought about the first time reading it. Great points Joe.

  3. Great goals to have Dan! Over the last 2 years I have seriously bumped up my reading. For me, it was all about making it a priority.

    I wish you well on your renewed goal!

    Also, one habit I have found beneficial is to re-read books you have already read. You will be amazed by what you missed or forgot on the first or second read-through.

  4. I’m in the same boat. I’ve always been a reader, ever since I was little. It’s how I was able to fall asleep at night – I would read about an hour each night before sleeping. But lately, the amount of my reading has dropped drastically. I’m making it a priority again and have a nice stack of books I am going to conquer. Looking forward to it!

    • I know how that is Jason. Life has away of drawing you away from reading. I have had many books on my shelf that I could read but have not been interested in reading them as much (They will be good books to read in the future). But needed to buy a few I knew I would want to read, which is working so far.

      So maybe buying a book or books that you really have a desire to read would help.

  5. At least your reading and growing online, by reading blogs and listening to podcasts. I don’t know if you would like to listen to audio books but it might be worth trying.

    They key is that your reading something that allows you to grow and develop. Thank you for sharing.

  6. No doubt Dan. Every month I am reading one or two books. From most ministry leaders I look too for inspiration or development always say, “if you want to stay fresh, keep reading”, reading keeps you learning, growing, evolving and humble.

  7. Great thoughts Dan. Over the past few years I’ve rekindled my love for reading and it’s been great. It is hard to make the time for it, but I listen to audiobooks and lectures in the car on the way to work, which makes it a lot easier.

    • I think everyone at one time or another needs to rekindle their desire to read book. It’s what I have had to do over the past month. I find it very wise to listen to audiobooks or lectures while in your car. Thank you for reading and sharing.

  8. Dan, I tasked myself to read as many books as I can on my industry and Leadership along with books that focus on being a Godly leader. I need to take more of a focus like you and say how many books per month, or how many pages or audio books. I need to be a bit more focused and you have truly pointed that out. Thanks.

    • Reading books in those areas are so essential. I find myself doing the same thing. I try and have a balance between reading spiritual growth books and leadership or my niche area books.

      I have seen the benefits of setting a reading goal. It keeps me disciplined and allows me to see progress on a daily basis. When you do set up a reading goal, it would be great to hear it (Only if you would like to share).

      Thank you for sharing, its great to hear from you.

  9. When you get those projects done (Or even before) remember that it does not need to be a big goal. Even reading 5 pages or for 10 minutes a day is good. The amount or time does not matter as much as your daily focus on growing and learning. At least your reading the one book that will bring the most value, your Bible:)

    Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

  10. I do not have a goal exactly but I do try to read often – it is with me one of those things that really comes and goes and even when it goes I still read but just not as much as in the other times. I also try to read in a variety of areas to me a little more well rounded. Right now I am getting back into more reading again.

    • At least your reading. I’m also trying to read in a variety of areas and different perspectives. This is why I picked up Harry S Dents book. I have seen the benefits of having a goal, it forces me to read more.

      • I have but for me reading is an ebb and flow thing. When I would have a goal I would read out of guilt and to get reach the goal and not to learn or be challenged by what I was reading.

        • Totally understand. The point of reading is to learn not to reach a goal. This is something I also struggle with. Setting a goal allows me to be more disciplined and intentional about reading. But I need to focus on learning more than reaching my goal.

  11. I never really got into audiobooks. I like being able to move in a non-linear fashion, and I underline points and make notes regularly in books. I do like podcasts, however. They were created to be heard, rather than books that were created to be read and are now being heard. For some reason, I just find them more informal in that sense.
    I think reading is certainly an almost essential habit for leaders to get into.

    • I also like reading books more than listening to them. I take away a lot more from the book than I would if I just listened to it. So true, ” Reading is an essential habit for leaders.” Thank you for sharing.

  12. Books are our time capsules of knowledge. Being inspired by one is a magical thing. It allows us to bring out of ourselves things we never knew we could accomplish or achieve. To be able to revisit that source of inspiration, that is an indescribable gift.

  13. Agree 100% with the blog title! Great leaders are lifelong students – they learn to teach. I used to have books with me all the time. Now I still do, where I have eBooks on my iphone and ipad.

    • Having something you can read at any point is so important. You never know when you will have a free minute or two. Thank you for stopping by and reading.

  14. Dan, what a great article! I used think the “readers are leaders” phrase was lame, but it is actually just a very simple truth that many people miss. Now I read a ton. I keep a book at my office for breaks, in my car for any time I end up with a few free minutes, one on CD if I end up taking an unexpected road trip, my kindle in my laptop bag, and I keep audio books on my iphone. I like the phone because even if I do not have headphones near by I can just hold it like I’m on the phone and adjust the volume appropriately.

    Now what you really need to share is how you got 37 comments on this article! I am not getting that kind of interaction on my blog! haha

    • These are some great ways of being intentional about reading. I also do many of the same things. I always have a book or audio book handy. It’s what great leaders do.

      I just write, post, and connect with other bloggers. Discipline is key bro. I know when you start posting again your blog is going to explode!!! Thank you for reading and sharing.