A Leader Is A Reader
“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” So goes the sage advice from president Harry Truman.
I have books filling cabinets, nightstands, and bookshelves. I have full shelves in my office, my home, and my study. My wife, Darlene, has always been incredibly patient with all of this and doesn't ask me too often to clean things out and get rid of a few books. Suffice it to say that I am an inveterate reader.
When do I read? Every chance I get! I usually read for an hour or two at a time and primarily enjoy history and biographies.
I always try to read something from F.W. Boreham on a daily basis. I read a lot on leadership, history, and biography. Every now and then I'll dive into fiction, but's that's fairly rare – but when I do it’s John Grisham.
Why read? I know people who almost need to have a gun at their head in order to make them read. If you desire to be an effective leader, though, you’re going to have to develop the art of reading. Here’s why:
- Leaders read in order to gain wisdom. As I glance at my shelves, I have at my fingertips the distilled wisdom of Winston Churchill, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Theodore Roosevelt, F. W. Boreham, David McCullough, Elisabeth Elliot, A.W. Tozer, John Maxwell, numerous pastors and presidents, A.B. Simpson, Matthew Henry, Jim Collins, C.S. Lewis, and John Grisham – just to name a few!
- Leaders read for the joy of it all. One of life’s most pleasant experiences for me was when I found myself sitting outside an Australian café on a crisp autumnal morning, overlooking the beach, with a perfect roasted cup of coffee and an F. W. Boreham book in hand. It really was one of those seminal moments when I felt all was right with the world. The mere act and environment of reading brought me joy. Joy is to be found not only in the experience but also in the content. I have traversed fjords with Amundsen, sailed down the River of Doubt with Roosevelt, stood in the early morning mists of Antietam with Union and Confederate generals, charged the Dervishes at Omdurman with Kitchener and Churchill, angled the rushing brooks with Walton, and traipsed the Cuban countryside with Hemingway. All because I had a book in my hand!
- Leaders read to learn. I can’t sit down and enter into a personal mentorship with the world’s greatest leaders. But I can read their books. I have learned military strategy from generals, studied the machinations of politics from John Adams to Ronald Reagan, and absorbed deep spiritual truths from Madame Guyon, Blaise Pascal and Malcolm Muggeridge.
All because I read.
Is my current level of reading taking me to the next level?
What author(s) should I add to my reading list? What topics should I read?
What reading goals can I set for the next three months?
Which of the above names should I at least look up?