Successful Leaders Are Readers


Put a group of leaders in a room and ask them if they’ve seen the latest blockbuster movie. You’ll get a mixed bag of reactions.  Some will have seen it.  Some won’t care to see it.  Some aren’t even aware of it.  But ask them about a best-selling book and they will eagerly dive into a conversation about it.


The uber-successful are always being studied. What time do they wake up?  What do they eat for breakfast?  How do they manage their time?  Which sock do they put on first?


One habit they share is their appetite for reading.


‘Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.’

~  Harry S. Truman



We turn to reading for a variety of reasons ranging from entertainment to education to inspiration and personal development.  See if you recognize your reason to read in this list;

  • To gain perspective
  • To learn something new
  • To keep informed
  • Research
  • Curiosity
  • It’s part of your job
  • Develop your Self
  • For Pleasure or Entertainment


If you have one to add to this list, leave me a comment at the end of this blog.


Reading is such a useful activity.  It teaches you to focus.  It gives you time to think about what you’re absorbing.  Reading develops important cognitive skills like deductive reasoning, critical analysis, and reflection.


Reading takes you deeper.  It gives you time to evaluate what you just read.  You respond with your thoughts by either validating or challenging what you already know or think you know.  You gain insight.  This gives you a jumping off point to develop an opinion.  Having an informed opinion is a trait leaders share.




In speaking and working with leaders on the subject, several reasons they love to read revealed themselves to me.


One reason they read is to broaden their limited scope.  No matter what business you’re in, you tend to circulate within set parameters.  You learn to function within those boundaries. You can even develop a comfortable, successful life there.  But those aspiring to do great things look outside of those boundaries to see what else is possible.  Operating at a functional level is enough to sustain a business. But taking it to the next level, that’s how you make a difference.  It’s how you make your mark.


Another reason leaders read non-fiction is to connect to an untapped part of themselves.  Success on the level of fulfillment becomes personal. Many great leaders pay attention to the part of themselves that is yearning to plug into their personal value in such a way that goes beyond running a successful organization.  They know they are competent at what they do.  But they want to surpass competence and reach for greatness.  Contribution and meaningful success are on the table for them.  When I work with them to recognize this aspect, it’s like they go through an awakening that’s been waiting for them to arrive.  They re-energize with a renewed purpose and sense of Self that gets them feeling excited about the next steps.  Success Alignment® is like that.


The final reason I’ll share here is they take responsibility for their position.  If you’re aiming to be an Expert, Influencer or Thought Leader, you have a responsibility to the people you serve.  They look to you for knowledge, wisdom, and guidance.  You need to be informed and well-versed in your topical area. Reading and staying informed about your subject matter, your industry, and your clients’ needs become a relevant, contributing factor to your success.




Although the traditional publishing industry is going through disruptive changes, we are left with so many resources to gather information today.  You still might turn to TV or Social Media to get today’s headline news stories.  But you’ll turn to print when you want a deeper dive into a subject.


Today you can buy a print version, digital version or often an audio version of a book.  In my view, a good book provides one of the best ROI’s.  When an author carefully distills years of knowledge or wisdom into a few chapters, that’s a gift that not only saves you precious time and money but raises your value.


Just think of the experienced cook who presents meal plans, recipes and cooking techniques between two covers.  You’re buying the years they invested in training, dozens of hours it took to develop their skills, the recipes and hundreds or thousands of dollars spent on ingredients, possibly staffing and equipment.  And you get to own it for just a few dollars.  I think it’s one of the best investments going.


Books are not the only resource we’re turning to these days.  We can now tap into informative websites, blog sites, newsletters, magazines, article sites, and many podcasts are being transcribed for your reading pleasure.



I recently began publishing the STEPPING UP TOGETHER™ Roundup.  I realized that I was reading, writing and sharing so much information (and still do), that a lot of people missed out on.  So, I now regularly gather up the resources and share these articles, tips, and ideas in one publication that goes out to the subscribers of my blog.  Each edition features one subject that pertains to Success, Business, Leadership, and Entrepreneurship with the Expert, Influencer or Thought Leader in mind.


This blog post is part of a series titled, ‘LEADERS READ’.  If you’d like to subscribe to the blog and receive each Roundup edition, you can click on the link below.


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Reading, like exercise, is something only you can do to have the benefits it offers.  Here are some tips to take your reading to the next level.


Always know what your top 3 favorite books are and what your 3 most influential books are.  These are great conversation pieces to have.  If you coach or mentor, these are valued resources your clients will appreciate.  Knowing you’re top 3 are a great value add when networking.


Read outside of your industry.  Our thoughts can become stale and rigid when they are contained within the confines of our own industry.  Go outside of your regular conversations and listen to what they’re saying elsewhere.  It could be quite insightful.  It might be a breath of fresh air.  It may inspire new ideas to bring to your industry.  It broadens your horizons.  You may see new opportunities, and it helps put things in perspective. 

Practice Deep Reading. This is the practice of reading slower, deliberately and thoughtfully.  It’s an intentional act carried out purposefully to increase or deepen comprehension and enjoyment.  Ahhh, that makes me want to take a deep breath.  This requires your full engagement and participation, unlike watching video, which is passive.



Be cautious with reviews. You don’t know if the person writing has the same taste or is as advanced as you.  You don’t know if that person is an absolute beginner or someone much further down the path.  These things matter to your reading experience.  Instead, take a minute to look up the author.  You’ll probably find their blog or social media channels. Check out their opinions, their history to see if you’re interested in pursuing what they have to say further.


Make reading a habit.  For Experts, Influencers and Thought Leaders this is non-negotiable.  Reading needs to become a part of your workday.  It’s that important.  For you, reading is not an option.  It’s a necessity.


Identify 3 key takeaways from every book you read. Make it an intention when you begin. This will put you on alert and deepen your learning.  Take notes. Highlight passages.  Mark the page with a Post It flag.  Or find your own way to keep track of your favorites.  Once you have them, share them.  This deepens what you learn even further.


Someone who is well-read is considered to be of a higher intellect.  They are often good conversationalists.  They have a knack for starting or contributing to conversations with ease. A skilled leader also has the ability to hear what the other person has to say.  Reading helps you hone this skill too.  This makes you a welcome addition at any event or function. 


As you develop your perspective, knowledge base and learn to have great conversations, you become a sought-after authority. That bodes well for Experts, Influencers and Thought Leaders.


For those who develop their Success Alignment®, reading becomes both useful and enjoyable.  As you set out to make reading a part of your success journey, aim to have both.



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