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Why Leaders are Readers, and Readers Make the Best Leaders

November 16, 2021

You may have heard it said that leaders are readers, and I would take it one step further to say readers make the best leaders. Today on the Joy to Lead® Podcast we’re exploring why this is true and how you can adopt an identity of reader, too!

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Or, dive into the transcript below!

You may have heard it said that leaders or our readers, Leaders are readers, hard to say really fast. And I would also argue that readers become leaders. So why are leaders readers?

And why does reading help you lead lead even better? I’m reading a book called Book girl, by Sally Clarkson and Sara Clarkson. I think Sally Clarkson, his mother, she’s a missionary, and she writes mission focused books. And then Sarah Clarkson is her daughter. Yes. And she wrote the book, book girl, and I’m currently halfway through, it’s a really great book about the power of reading what it does for your brain, what it does for you as a human, how it shapes you. And it’s brain to light. A lot of the things that I always thought were different about me. You don’t know

I’m an Enneagram, four very, very, I romanticize things, I idealize things. I like to explore emotions, thoughts, feelings, aspects of human nature, very in depth. I’m the kind of person that likes to go to the mall and just watch people. And think about where they’re going, what they’re doing, how they’re feeling, what their story is.
And that may be weird, but it’s what I do. And I think it comes from this development.

I’ve spent my entire life reading, I am a reader. And in this book, book girl, she talks about the power of reading what it does for you as a human. But then she also has, you know, the half of the book is just chapters of lists of books, books for creating curiosity, sparking curiosity in yourself. Her personal book list, you know, if you, if you die, and you only read these books, you’ve done a great job, or try to read these books before you die.

Just lists and lists of great books, books to read with your kids. And she breaks down why these are great books. And it’s really sparking this fire in me to read more, which is something that characteristically I have identified with throughout my entire life, I’ve always been a reader, but then motherhood happens, business happens, life happens. And I’ve been in a season where I have read much less.

But still, I recognize that even still, I read more than most people. And I’ve become known in my leadership academy, as the person to come to for book recommendations about anything.

And I love that, and I want to dive more into that. Today, I want to talk about why Leaders are readers. And this is a concept that she explores in the book at great length, and I love that she does. What she talks about is that reading develops discernment, which I believe is the precursor to wisdom. If you want to be a wise human being if you want to be a wise leader, you have to practice discernment. But how do you develop discernment? Discernment is the ability to intuitively discern or understand

And realistically, to walk things out in your brain and to understand the core of something on the outset. And I believe this is the precursor to wisdom. You can’t have wisdom without discernment. You can’t have wisdom, without first understanding and being able to discern, now this is a great, a great tool to have in your pocket wisdom, discernment. Those are two great tools to have as a leader, discerning when you’re talking with somebody, the core of that, that human that you’re interacting with, what drives their motivations, what fuels their joy, what drives their heart, what drives their passions.

All of this, you can be can’t, you can begin to become aware of when you have discernment, and putting discernment into practice builds wisdom, discernment, that undergoes experience equals wisdom over time. So that’s a literal equation. Discernment, multiplied by experience equals wisdom over time.

When you’re younger, and you’re trying to develop your ability of discernment. You might make wrong decisions Wrong. Wrong assumptions. But multiplied by experience over time you begin to practice and develop wisdom.

And man, wisdom, and discernment are the best tools to have in your pocket as a leader. And Reading helps us create this discernment because as an N, I want to caveat and say reading literature, reading great books, reading books that explored the depth of the human nature, that postulate truths that explore values.
Reading is a great place to practice discernment, because it’s like, it’s a training field.
You know, as you’re reading Anna Karenina, and you’re seeing these different moralities come together, and, and
there’s so many different dichotomies.

They’re pitched against each other. And you as a reader can sit there, and you can begin to discern what feels good to you. What feels morally right, morally true, what feels strong about human nature? And where does it feel weak? what feels right what feels wrong.
All in the pages of a book. Reading helps you develop discernment.

Because it reinforces the values that you have. And you can begin to identify and link values between the pages of the book and the values in your heart.

That’s why book discussions are so powerful, because books are interpreted in different ways between different people. And that’s why you have to read, you can’t just sit there and try and be a better leader on the fly.

You have to develop yourself, you have to develop discernment, and then put it into action. I encourage you to be a reader, I encourage you to adopt that identity.

And I would love it if you picked up a book and smelled its pages and read its words. Digital books are great. But even still, studies show that we skim and we swipe, and we retain less when we read books digitally, and even listen to them audibly. But when you hold a book, something different happens. I love that it does.
kind of brings you back to the present moment.

And in this season, I’m trying to reclaim and reignite that identity of readership for myself. And to do that I’m having to make sacrifices. I say sacrifices, but is putting your phone down, really a sacrifice. Maybe it was the other way around. Putting the book down was the sacrifice.

But now I’m doing the hard thing of putting my phone down more often picking the book up more often. Turning Netflix off. Yes, even turning Gilmore Girls off more often than picking up the book.

Any book and I challenge you to do the same. If you want to really take your leadership to the next level. I encourage you to take your readership to the next level.

Resources mentioned in this episode

Read Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson

Read with us inside the Joy to Lead® Leadership Academy!

I'm Kaylan, leadership educator, podcaster & speaker

What are you searching for?

Reading suggestions

Crafting a 90-Day Onboarding Plan

Job Postings that Attract Top Talent

Mapping Your Leadership Style