Reading for Pleasure Makes You a Better LeaderWith so much in the “to read/review” pile these days, including news sites, industry sites and blogs, and the proliferating pile of business books on our list, fewer and fewer chief executive officers are taking the time to read literature.

This is “terrible for leadership” according to John Coleman in his article in Harvard Business Review.

He says, “deep, broad reading habits are often a defining characteristic of our greatest leaders and can catalyze insight, innovation, empathy, and personal effectiveness.”

Many great leaders subscribe(d) to this theory such as Steve Jobs, Nike founder Phil Knight, and Winston Churchill.

Studies show, prolific reading expands your mind and your vocabulary. As well, reading outside of your sphere of familiarity opens up creativity and innovation. Some of the best ideas come from other fields. And that’s not all: Reading improves communication skills not only by expanding vocabulary but also by improving sociability.

Five Ways to Start Reading for Pleasure

If you aren’t already a prolific reader, Coleman identifies a few ways to get started.

Join a reading group: Although this might seem like a time-consuming idea, reading groups keep you accountable on a number of points. You will more than likely read some things you wouldn’t have chosen for yourself. It keeps you on track to continue reading because you can’t show up without reading the book in question. Often, readers skim the book too quickly or their mind wanders and details are missed. Reading group discussion surrounding the book forces you to dive deeper into the subject matter and hone your critical thinking skills.

Change up your reading selection: For many, the tendency is to read the same genre or subject matter of book, because we enjoy it. You might like spy novels, or books about golf, so you stick to that. Make it a point to choose a few different types; perhaps poetry, or science fiction or a piece of classic American literature. Ask friends and colleagues for recommendations.

Apply what you read to your work: It doesn’t have to feel like it’s all for leisure. Take what you learn or read, and put it to work for you. If you have an issue you are trying to resolve at work, get a book on the subject and use it to find a solution.

Share the love: If you read something you love, think about who might benefit from it, and forward the book to them, or give them their own copy.

Enjoy it: Most importantly, enjoy it. Sitting down on the porch, the beach or even for 30 minutes before going to sleep is a luxury, and an escape. Make the most of it and put your mind at ease.

Now, I’d like to turn it to you. What have you read lately that you’d recommend?