One mark of truly influential leaders is their sometimes insatiable appetite for reading. We see this in all areas, including business leadership and political leadership.
Despite the fact that President George W. Bush was often teased about his scholarship, when his successor took the helm, CNN ran a story wondering if President Barack Obama would be able to match the volume of books that “Bush 43″ read in a typical year; the number could be as high as 100.
President Harry S. Truman captured the relationship between the printed page and positions of authority when he said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”
The facts about leaders and fiction
You might think that leaders focus their reading solely on important nonfiction works. For example, presidents might want to always have an insightful history book close at hand. Those involved in business leadership might want to be reading everything they can about marketing, for example. While these books are important to leaders, they aren’t the only pages they turn.
Men and women in positions of leadership, whether they are in government or in business, also find time to read a lot of great works of fiction. There are a couple of good reasons for this. First, diving into a great novel is a wonderful way to alleviate stress. Second, novelists often explore some very creative ideas and great leaders are always looking for new and creative ways to solve problems.
Additional benefits of reading
Being an avid reader also helps build your analytical skills and your ability to communicate by supplying you with a fresh source of ideas. People who read challenging books find that they are able to improve their vocabulary dramatically. This makes them more powerful communicators, which is one of the most important skills in business leadership.
Educators who design online MBA programs understand, as President Truman said, that leaders are readers, and they work to build elements into their curricula that help develop these literary skills. For example, participating in in-depth discussions centered on important reading assignments helps students understand the ideas in the written material and also helps them express their ideas.
Further, listening to what other students say about reading assignments helps online MBA students better understand the material and sharpen analytical thinking skills. Additionally, reading helps students develop a greater empathy for other people. These are some of the most critical skills for anyone hoping to get into the higher levels of business leadership.
If presidents of the United States can find the time to read, it seems like the rest of us should be able to go through a few good books each year, too. However, we know that our busy schedules sometimes make this difficult.
The discipline that comes with an educational program like an online MBA can be a good way to get into the habit of reading regularly. Also, programs like these help tomorrow’s business leaders discover important business books and thought leaders.
Learn about the Boise State online MBA program.
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