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.
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
Leaders must be readers.