Leaders are Readers

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.”

The famed journalist and women's rights advocate Margaret Fuller put it plainly that reading is a core component of what it takes to be a well-rounded leader. Because leadership isn't something that is quickly learned through experience, reading the philosophies and stories of business professionals, mission-driven directors and notable thinkers can supercharge your path to a winning leadership style that's all your own.

Rather than diving into the literary abyss of Amazon or combing through the covers at Barnes & Noble, check out our latest podcast episode where we interviewed Charlie Callari, CEO & Managing Director of C3 Consulting and Director of Sales for Buckeye Broadband. Why Charlie? He's an ambitious leader and has a "lifelong passion for reading".

Benefits of Reading

Reading will, of course, give you insights that you didn't have before, especially if you actively focus on soaking in the knowledge. However, there are lots of other advantages to adding reading to your routine. Charlie outlines, for instance, how reading can:

  • Boost your memory
  • Improve your empathy
  • Reduce stress
  • Enhance your creativity
  • Develop your analytical and critical thinking skills
  • Expand your vocabulary
  • Focus your attention

You Do Have Time

You've got a lot going on. Maybe it's daycare carpool, taking your kids to soccer, taking an online course or fitting in some fitness that has you strapped for time. Regardless of what you has your running around, remember: you're not the only one. Everyone is busy!  

Don't believe us? Most CEOs are not just reading every month; they're reading as many as five books a month. That's around 60 books per year! Charlie reminds us, however, that setting 60 books a year as a goal is incredibly ambitious. What's smarter, especially if you're not already a leader, is to just start with five minutes each day. Little by little, you can increase your investment each day to 30 minutes or whatever suits your schedule.

"Thirty minutes a day when you're reading, you can get through your average business book in a week," he said. "Your average business book is only about 150-200 pages at the max. Just think of 'Who Moved My Cheese?'"

"Who Moved My Cheese?" is described as "a simple parable...of four characters who live in a 'Maze' and look for 'Cheese' to nourish them and make them happy." The overall theme is how people react to change in their personal and work lives.

Charlie adds that if you're still having trouble finding that time or you can't focus enough to retain what you're reading, turn your drive time into your time. In addition to reading around 15 minutes in the morning, Charlie recommends Audible or any other audiobook/podcast resource to listen to the books and discussions people are otherwise missing out on.

"Everybody has the same 24 hours," he said. "It's just what do we do with it. The same thing goes for exercise. Whatever is important to you is what you'll make time for."

Reading to Stay Sharp

Greater than any other professional benefit is the going education that is obtained through reading, Charlie added. What if a doctor stopped keeping up with the latest knowledge and methods? What if a salesperson didn't read about the newest trends and audience demands? By reading, professionals can stay on the cutting edge of their industry while also challenging themselves to think ahead of what's current.

Furthermore, as a leader, there's nothing more stifling for your team than to not fill their mental and emotional buckets with new perspectives and information that will challenge them as well.

"You can't get there if you don't have the knowledge or you don't have the ideas," Charlie said.

One unique effort that Charlie does as a leader for others is maintain a scoreboard...for himself. He measures his leadership success by determining how many people he's helped get to where they want to be professionally. He's up to 47.

Much of this mindset, Charlie added, is based on a philosophy professed by Zig Ziglar, the renowned professional development author and motivational speaker: "You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want." Whether your ambitions have to do with your personal life—for friends and family—or your professional life—for team members or customers, your goals will be achieved.

Books We Mentioned

  1. Own the Day | Aubrey Marcus
  2. Everybody Always | Bob Goff
  3. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People | Stephen Covey
  4. Getting Things Done | David Allen
  5. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership | John Maxwell
  6. Who Moved My Cheese? | John Spencer
  7. The Power of Positive Thinking | Dr. Norman Vincent Peale
  8. The One Minute Salesperson | Spencer Johnson
  9. Delivering Happiness | Tony Hsieh
  10. Sales EQ | Jeb Blount

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