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May 2011 - Leaders Must Be Readers

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John A. Kline, PhD jkline@klinespeak.com
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Dr. John KlineMy May 2010 column was titled: “Leaders Must Be Communicators.” In the February, March and April columns of 2011, I was more specific as I stressed leaders must be listeners; they must be able to use non verbal communication; and they must be good speakers. But leaders must also be readers.

Listeners need to know what others are saying. Leaders need current thinking about leadership, management, current events and many more things. Nothing takes the place of reading for discovering new information. Those who read well can educate themselves in almost any area.

Reading develops the mind. The mind is a muscle that becomes stronger with exercise. Understanding the written word is one of the best ways to grow the mind. Just like any other muscle in the body, the mind gets flabby if it isn’t exercised.

Reading helps develop a healthy self-image. Poor readers lack confidence in their ability to process written information. Their lack of confidence is justified and they know it is; consequently, their self image suffers.

Reading helps leaders advance. Most responsible leadership positions require much reading. Reports, letters, memos, emails and many other written messages require careful understanding and intelligent responses. The poor reader is at a decided disadvantage. There is a strong positive correlation between reading ability and leadership.

Reading develops imagination and creativity. As good leaders read, they think about what the writer is saying and think about how the message applies to their own situations. Some of my best ideas and the best visions for organizations I have led were prompted by things I read. Reading gets the creative juices flowing.

The power of written ideas is foundational to a democracy. That is why some governments oppose free and honest communication. Illiterate people are easier to manipulate. They must rely on what they are told, rather than reading and processing the information for themselves.

Leaders must be readers.

John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama

May 2011 - Leaders Must Be Readers
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