What is the one habit that can significantly impact your leadership skill, impact your business results, and grow your thought leadership? It’s reading, but not just any reading. In this article I will share:
- 4 tips to help you get started,
- 4 strategies to make your reading more impactful, and
- My Top 10 Reads for Leaders.
But first – Why read?
1. Follow the leaders – Many successful people like Warren Buffet, Tony Robbins, Elon Musk, and more advocate this daily habit and so do I!
2. Books are an amazing source of organized knowledge. An author has spent months, maybe their lifetime, organizing their knowledge into a concise format so you can understand and implement it. What an incredible gift and usually less than $30!
3. It elevates your thinking and innovativeness. When you read daily you expand your perspective and naturally become more thoughtful. The more angles and views of our world, the better the solutions we can have to our challenges. Alternative perspectives can help us get unstuck from our beliefs, bring awareness to our biases, and help us see more of the systems and interrelationships in our world. With a bigger picture and more insight, we see new possibilities to be more creative and innovative. It might even help you see around corners and gain insight into future directions.
Four (4) Tips to start your reading habit:
1. Don’t let the hundreds of exceptional books overwhelm you, just pick one and start. Want a suggestion? Download my Top 10 Reads for Leaders.
2. Start small. Commit initially to 10 min. per day. You can do this!
3. Link it to an already established habit, like brushing your teeth or making your morning coffee, or driving. Obviously, an audio book is key with the later.
4. Have what you need ready to start, which means the book is on your phone or desk. Order 2 books today. I highly recommend an Audible and Kindle subscription plus a book summary (more on this later). When I find huge value in a book, I order a hard copy for my library and for the pleasure of flipping pages and highlighting text. Yes, you guessed it, I’m over 45.
Forming a new habit is a challenge but reading daily is much like investing. It is best to start now and benefit from compounding knowledge than to wait until you ‘have time’. You won’t have the time until you retire and, much like investing, its too late to have much impact on your career or bank account.
4 Steps to Maximize your results from daily reading:
1. Catch the main themes, experiment, & reflect. Don’t doddle through a book. Consider it a fast-learning moment. Set a timer and see how many insights or new ideas you can capture that appeal to you in 30 minutes. I make notes right in the book and add sticky notes if not enough room. Or speed up the audio book to 1.25 and have a notepad ready.
- Capture a quote or a concept to share with your team that day.
- Make note of areas you want to spend more time in on your next reading block. Stick to no more than 5 sessions per book.
- Focus on 2-3 key ideas useful to you now and experiment with them. You can only absorb and implement so much.
- Keep a digital journal. For each book note key learnings, what you tried, what worked, and challenges.
- Go back to the book for more guidance if needed. If you found it valuable, you can probably find some YouTube discussions or a course on it to help you integrate more.
The material that you actively engage with will become part of how you lead going forward. Reflection and teaching others are the most effective ways to create integration and long-term memory.
2. Engage your team
Make reading, learning, and experimenting with a book’s concepts a team project. Assign sections to each member to present at a team meeting, discuss, and determine if the team or individuals want to experiment with key learnings. Set up accountability.
3. Find Articles, Book Summaries, or Blogs to speed up knowledge acquisition.
These 5–20-minute reads (or audios) are a quick way to build your knowledge in an area of interest and to keep up to date on the latest conversations. Download my Thought Leadership Development with Book Summaries recommendations.
4. Keep track of your key learning. Keep a spreadsheet of everything you read (or article links) with key take aways, quotes, or things you experimented with. Sheets are searchable making it easy for you to quote or share material in the future.
Don’t trust your memory when you are reading over 300 pieces a year. Keeping track also provides you a great vehicle to reflect on your learning which then reinforces and integrates it into your model of the world.
Reading, just like regular investing, adds up!
Imagine that you read 1 book per week plus 5 articles or book summaries. In one year, you will have the insight and expertise from 52 authors and 260 articles!
As you integrate and experiment with the ideas you will begin to form your own thoughts and models which you can then share and write about. As we all strive to be more effective leaders, our shared thought leadership can create powerful momentum for better relationships and workplaces.
Follow me on LinkedIn
I like to share good material to help you enhance your leadership and business results, so I post daily on LinkedIn. Some articles are written by me while others are sourced from reputable sources like HBR, McKinsey & Co, Inc., Forbes, notable newsletters, and blogs.
Please share your tips and the benefits you have experienced from daily reading.
I would love to hear what has worked for you plus the good books or articles you find. Even better, become a thought leader on LinkedIn and share your insights from the articles and books you read. We all benefit when ideas are presented with different perspectives to digest and integrate into our worlds.
Best of success to you and keep me posted!