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Reading trumps all in the pursuit of leadership



84 year old business magnate, investor and philanthropist Warren Buffet estimates that he spends 80% of his day reading, an investment he likens to “compounding interest”. The second-wealthiest American’s commitment represents an investment in himself that will, over time, more then pay itself back… if it hasn’t already.

However it seems that in today’s society, we are so time poor we have neglected a significant aspect of our lives – investing in ourselves.

Despite the world’s significant literacy rates of 84%, we have seen a decline in the rate of adults who read, with 28% of people surveyed not having opened a single book in the past 12 months.

The leaders behind some of the largest and most powerful companies in the world are known to be avid readers. Steve Jobs, the creator of one of the world’s most influential brands, was known to be a fan of William Blake. Phil Knight, founder of the sportswear leader Nike, has a library so extensive and revered that he requests you remove your shoes whilst inside. Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and one of the world’s most successful investors, claims he spends 80% of his day reading.


So how does extensive reading help you become a better leader?

Evidence shows that reading leads to increased intelligence, which is a precursor to innovation and insight. Reading increases a person’s vocabulary. In fact, just 15 mins of dedicated reading each day will expose you to over 1,000,000 words annually, giving you the tools to assimilate and acquire knowledge at a faster rate then those who don’t.

Reading has a profound impact on leadership, with those who read found to present more confidently and possess superior communication skills. Reading exposes people to a range of situation’s both fact and fiction, increasing a person’s problem solving skills, concentration levels and writing ability.

The benefits are not confined to the working environment. Reading a book is effective for reducing stress levels, eclipsing other typical alternatives such as listening to music, enjoying a cup of coffee or tea, and even going for a walk.

Research indicates that only 6 minutes of reading will reduce stress levels by around 68%. And it doesn’t stop there. Establishing a de-stressing routine such as reading is a technique many experts recommend to relax the mind and prepare the body for sleep, helping to improve a person’s quality of sleep. Reading leads to improved memory capacity, and has even been linked to preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s, as well as easing depression and improving a person’s emotional intelligence.

Whether it’s on a personal level or a professional level, reading provides a host of benefits. So, if you want to become a leader and stand out from the crowd, read broadly, deeply, and read often. Read a variety of content, from both professional sources and industries not associated to your own. Read poetry, science fiction, history, and even self-help books.

The more you read, the better your leadership skills will become, the better your personal health, and the better your life will be.

Interesting sources for more reading about reading:

  1. The Habits of the World’s Smartest People (Infographic)
  2. Why Leaders Must Be Readers
  3. 7 Unconventional Reasons Why You Absolutely Should Be Reading Books
  4. For Those Who Want to Lead, Read