Why Leaders Read

by | Jul 15, 2021 | Lifestyle

Do you like reading? Did you know that this hobby makes your body and mind healthier and stronger? It’s true! Reading is one of the best things you can do to develop a strong mind, resilient heart, and become a stalwart leader. However, according to a study done by the Pew Research Center, in 2019, 27% of Americans said they hadn’t read an entire book in the last 12 months. Here are five reasons why reading is an attribute of leaders.

Grow Empathy

Reading is the cheapest way to experience a life that is different from your own. While you may feel like you are open-minded to the world, seek to read books by authors of different races, backgrounds, and nationalities. Experience the world through their eyes. This may be through memoirs, biographies, or retelling of specific stories in the life of the author. While you are reading, try to really think about the story you are reading and ask yourself what you would do in that situation. Use this as an opportunity to grow empathy for those who have this experience and decide how you can help someone like this.

Let’s not forget the novels! Fiction is a wonderful way to dream about dragons, magic, and the possibilities you haven’t even thought of. The heroes of these stories are great at breeding empathy.

Invest the time to get a library card and borrow books (audiobooks count too!) often. Don’t be afraid of reading books that make you uncomfortable by stretching your world perspective.

Continued Learning

Books can cover so many different topics, and books to promote learning is a big one. True leaders have an attitude of learning and are constantly seeking to expand their minds. Read books written by masters of their field and authors who have accurate information and research to back it up.

Read the newspaper or news app on your phone. Seek to be up to date on current affairs. Read about one topic from multiple news sources to learn all the angles of an issue. Have an open mind and let hot button topics challenge your view. Let the pursuit onof knowledge refine your world view and strengthen your resolve.

Healthy Mind

Leaders should constantly be striving for mental fitness, and reading is like exercise for your brain. In a study conducted in 2013, researchers determined that reading consistently will engage more areas of your brain and increase brain connectivity. Building brain connectivity is like building your muscles. You can mentally lift more “weight.”

Healthy Body

Reading is scientifically proven to reduce stress. In a 2009 study, it was found that reading for 30 minutes produced the same stress-relieving effects as doing yoga. Blood pressure lowers, heart rate slows, and racing thoughts clear.

Not only does reading reduce stress, but it can also decrease feelings of depression. When a reader picks up a novel, they can feel connected to a character and focus on the hero’s struggle instead of their own. Depression can be triggered by feelings of lacking human connection, and reading a novel while connecting with a character can be a temporary replacement for this. Read more about the health benefits of reading here.

Practice Discipline

Sitting down to read a book requires you to stop what you are doing and be in that moment. No one else, and nothing else but you and the characters (factual or fictional), are in that moment. In a society that often praises multitasking and being busy, it can be a struggle for many to turn off the screen and focus on one task that does not have a measurable goal … this is where reading comes in.

Set aside time every day to read something. Set a timer if you need to. If you haven’t read in a long time and find it difficult to focus, start by setting a 10-minute timer and focus solely on the book you are reading. Increase that time by 5 minutes every few days until you are able to read for an hour or more without losing focus. While this will directly benefit your reading ability, it will also spill over into other areas of your life, and you will find yourself able to focus on other tasks for longer periods of time as well.

Reading a physical book is becoming a lost art for many in the age of mega computers that fit into our pockets. It has so many benefits and ultimately builds better and more capable leaders.

Looking for more ways to be a better leader? Read our blog, “Four Things Great Leaders Do to Take Care of Themselves.”