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Why Leaders Must Be Readers:

by Annesha Dutta

Tags: leader job leaders job advice

        I’m a proud nerd. I have always loved reading; to the exclusion of many things. It was only when I joined Toastmasters and started writing my speeches that I found my reading invaluable for ideas and conversation starters. However, as a leader, I found reading indispensable. Even though there was lesser time for reading on a regular basis, it seemed more crucial. Here’s my take on why ‘all leaders must be readers’.

A. Reading Expands Your Horizons: How many leaders/ entrepreneurs/ achievers can you connect with and learn from? Books give you a fast insight into the journeys, learnings and mindsets of extremely successful people and companies; often from different cultures.

B. Reading Gives You Innovative Ideas: Did you know about ten ways in which saying ‘Thank-You’ to your teams can boost productivity and morale by 30%? Did you know how to conduct ‘mind-mapping’ sessions? Did you know why you should walk and conduct meetings? Well, I didn’t either. Till I read books.

C. Books And Ideas Are Conversation Starters: Oh, the bane of table topics! Or what to talk about at networking events? How to make an impression? “Did you read that book on....?” “ I love this author...his/her views on running is so amazing...” – reading helps you make a deeper connect.

D. Reading Is A Stress Buster: Bill Gates famously reads for 15 minutes before going to bed. Disconnecting from your gadgets and reading is a great, economical stress buster.

E. Reading Gives Us Perspective: Leaders sometimes get caught up in linear ways of thinking. Reading helps open up differing viewpoints and fresh perspectives to a subject – adopt it or not, it makes you understand the customer or the member viewpoint.

F. Reading Makes Us Thinkers and Doers: In the age of constant consumption in social media, we have forgotten to ‘chew the cud’ – introspection and thinking is as important as executing the idea. Reading makes us thinkers as we have to visualize the idea/concept in our imagination and then figure how we can adapt it.

G. Reading Makes Us Better Communicators: Reading gives you an amazing vocabulary – three times more than non-readers. You use better words, correct words and quotes in your communication. It presents scenarios and case studies that you can use in real life.

H. Reading Challenges Us: Reading saves us from narcissism and self absorption. It gives us a macro-view of the world. It challenges our thoughts, feelings, ideas, judgements, biases, deeply held beliefs and perspectives. You can spark debates with your team with the reference of controversial topics and innovation might flow into your work. #win-win

Watch this: Ted talk on how books can open your mind


Here are some books specifically enabling leadership development.

1.      Managing the Mental Game by Jeff Boss

Former Navy SEAL Jeff Boss shows readers how to build self-confidence and fortitude.

2.      Start With Why by Simon Sinek

This book centers on an important business truth: People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

3.      The Go-Giver Leader by Bob Burg and John David Mann

Great leaders 'give' before they 'receive'.

4.      The Dip by Seth Godin

The Dip proves that winners do quit, and quitters do win - till the right 'dip'.

5.       Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

The most 'fun' book about social economics and behaviour - how the world is shaped by minor changes.

6.       Essentialism by Greg McKeown

By going for “less,” we prioritize what is truly important in our lives.

7.      Drive by Daniel H. Pink

Daniel H. Pink states that our internal motivation drives things - at work and in personal life.

8.       Getting Things Done by David Allen

Focus, delgation and workflows - all there in this gem of a book.

9.       Give and Take by Adam Grant

Takers, matchers and givers - the new currency of success.

10.   What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School by Mark H. McCormack

Negotiate like a boss by reading people - an unconventional take.

11.   The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey

The classic mindset shift.

12.   Tribes by Seth Godin

Communicate and motivate. To lead you must inspire others to follow your example or orders. Get them on board your proposal or idea.

13.   Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Women of the world – how to get the corner office and lead your business; work and life. Men of    the world – how to support and create a world for amazing women in business.

14.   Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Show up, try and fail. Being vulnerable is a strength.

15.   The War of Art by Steve Pressfield

Procrastination - beat it and win the game. How? Read the book.

16. Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain

If you are an introvert, you might be the next great leader – in – waiting. Cain shows the hidden power of how introverts function and win.

So when are you picking up a new book? Add your books to the list.

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