Read to Lead

Readers Make Leaders

Reading is essential for the growth of an individual and when that individual is leading an organization, reading and gaining knowledge become even more important. While experience in the field of interest is a huge asset, what can add on to it is regular reading which will help a person evolve into the best leader he can be.

It is rare to find a leader who doesn’t read. This is because invariably leaders are looking to constantly innovate – and what better source for inspiration to innovate than books!

Other than the obvious benefit of making a person knowledgeable, reading has many other benefits too.

Thinking Skills

  • When we read and are exposed to new ideas, it makes us think.
  • Books introduce perspectives we never thought of before and this pushes our thinking boundaries. Indirectly, this elevates our ability to solve problems.
  • Studies done on people who read and people who preferred television showed that the readers were not only more knowledgeable but they also had better intuition. Simply put, it hones a person’s discernment skills.
  • A leader is often required to size up situations quickly to come up with solutions and reading goes a long way towards helping in this.

Interpersonal Skills

  • When we talk of books to help us improve ourselves, we assume that this is restricted to self-improvement books or books which focus on our professional arena. This is actually not a correct assumption.
  • Reading fiction comes with its own set of advantages.
  • This is because fiction gives us the chance to live a completely different person’s life, to understand his views and choices and thus it helps us to understand people better.
  • For a leader, this translates into an ability to understand and hence manage his employees better.
  • In short, reading fiction helps develop a person’s soft skills.

Communication Skills

  • Everyone needs a good vocabulary to communicate properly and this is of even greater importance if the person is a leader of an organization.
  • When we read, our oral and written skills both improve.
  • While watching television does help us get familiar with a language, to learn and master the language, reading is essential.
  • Studies have shown that reading can introduce us to double (sometimes triple) the number of new words compared to television.
  • For a leader, effective communication is vital.
  • He has to communicate to not just let his employees know what is required of them but to inspire them to do better.
  • A leader’s words carry a lot of weight and the way they are delivered can make a huge difference to his employees.

A Relaxation Tool

  • In today’s fast paced world, everyone faces stress. And everyone is looking for ways of stress relief.
  • While listening to music, dancing, indulging in outdoor activities, etc. are ways of stress relief that everyone is aware of, not many know that reading is a very effective stress reliever as well.
  • Studies show that reading can bust stress in as little as 6 minutes!
  • This happens because when we read, we get involved in it and our concentration is focused on that. As a result, we forget our worries and relax.
  • While doing so, reading also enhances our imagination and creativity. These are some of the reasons why even for children bedtime stories are recommended – it helps them to relax and fall asleep faster.

Sharpens the Brain

  • Reading improves the cognitive abilities of the brain and while being mentally sharp is an obvious requirement for leaders, this benefit is especially helpful to the elderly.
  • Research has shown that elderly people who read have better cognitive abilities compared to those who don’t.
  • Simple activities like reading daily and solving puzzles make a huge difference to brain health and reduce the chances of people developing dementia.

It is essential for leaders to be readers. No other activity gives as many benefits as reading does. Reading across varied fields is even more beneficial as it gives an insight into something that is completely new and thus widens our perspective.

Reading autobiographies helps us understand leaders and visionaries of the past, why they took the decisions they did and it either helps us to learn from their mistakes or to use their experiences as a guide to help us do better.

Encouraging Children to Read

Unfortunately, the trend of reading books has been on a decline. This could be due to various issues.There are many distractions and children often prefer spending time on online apps instead of reading. Parents too do not encourage their children to read books and the only books that are encouraged are academic ones. It is necessary to instill a love for reading in children for them to derive the maximum benefit from it.

Some children pick up the habit of reading naturally while others don’t. Parents need to take the initiative to introduce reading to their child and once the child picks up reading, it often translates into a lifelong habit.

Here are some tips for parents who are trying to get their children to read:

  • Don’t be judgmental of the books your children read. Let them read what they like. Slowly they will branch out and start exploring all genres of books.
  • It is okay if your child wants to reread books. It gives them a sense of familiarity and security.
  • Set an example by choosing to read yourself instead of watching television.
  • If you are getting your child a book, make sure it is age appropriate.
  • If your child is completely averse to reading, read the book aloud to him and let him listen. Let the child look at the pictures and proceed at his own pace. Slowly, the child will start reading too.
  • Make it enjoyable. If possible, create a reading spot at home for your child – a comfortable, cozy place with minimum distractions.
  • Let the child have access to books in the house.
  • Make sure to praise your child when he attempts to read a difficult word; explain patiently when he comes to you with doubts. Slowly his confidence and love for reading will grow and he will soon start reading by himself.