If you’re like me, you constantly have a massive stack of books waiting to be read, sitting by your bedside table or on your bookshelf. Or maybe your reading list is digital – I have one on my computer that seems to stretch a mile long! Everyone says these days how they don’t have time to read, and trust me, I understand. Sometimes when you do read, you feel guilty because it doesn’t feel like you’re doing anything productive.
Studies have shown that making the time to read your way through your book list will help you (and your business) in the long run! For example, over the last ten years cognitive psychologists Keith Oatley and Raymond Mar have gathered data indicating that fiction-reading activates neuronal pathways in the brain that help the reader better understand real human emotion. This means that through reading, you can improve your emotional intelligence, which is valuable as a leader in any field.
The Harvard Business Review states “deep, broad reading habits are often a defining characteristic of our greatest leaders and can catalyze insight, innovation, empathy, and personal effectiveness.” All of these traits epitomize what makes a good business leader! How can anyone run a company or be a good boss without insight, innovation, empathy and personal effectiveness?
Keep this in mind as well! Many of our great leaders and innovators have been avid readers. To name a few: Steve Jobs, Phil Knight, Sidney Harmon, and William Churchill (Churchill earned the Nobel Prize in Literature). All of these people realized the value that reading had on themselves as leaders.
And though it may be tempting to “double dip,” or read a book based on your industry or the business world in general, reading across fields is good for creativity. Leaders who can derive insights from other fields, such as sociology, the physical sciences, economics, or psychology, can apply them to their organizations to help them innovate and prosper.
Reading and gaining the aforementioned skills will also help you stand out in the business world! According to The National Endowment for the Arts has found that the amount of people who read for pleasure “has declined among every group of adult Americans,” and for the first time in American history, “less than half of the U.S. adult American population is reading literature.” This is extremely unfortunate, and we need to reverse this trend! But for now, having better emotional intelligence will help you become a better leader, and knock out your competition!
As you can see, reading has many benefits, but it is largely overlooked as a way to develop your leadership skills. So next time you feel like picking up a book that’s been sitting in your house for a long time, do it!
Check out this post for more tips on how to be a good business leader! If you want to meet more women in business to connect with and get support with growing your business, sign up for our annual MACsWomen Summit!