Leaders Are Readers

It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.
— Oscar Wilde

I have heard a lot of the excuses why people don’t read more than they do. Here are a few of my personal favorites.

  • I get bored really easily.

  • I don’t have the time.

  • I start books but don’t finish them.

  • I read… just really really slowly.

  • I don’t like reading. (personal favorite)

I get it. In most peoples journey, they are forced to read from age 4 through college. You are told, scolded, forced, and sometimes bribed into reading. I can see why the sentiment is the way it is.

The statistics say that after college, 42% of people never pick up another book… for the rest of their life.

I wanted to pass along what has helped me in hopes that it helps you. I graduated and started to become that statistic. I had a person in my life whom I admire greatly challenge me to read The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. From that moment on… I was hooked. Which brings me to my first tip.

  1. Read something you are passionate about.

    • Unless forced to read something, pick something you are passionate about. Once I got a taste of leadership content, I knew it was all I wanted to read going forward. It is not worth reading random things. Where there is passion, there will be drive to absorb content.

  2. If it doesn’t grab me in the first 3 chapters, I’m done.

    • I used to slug through bad books. Make no mistake, there are such a thing as bad books. I was listening to a book publisher talk about how he reads (and he reads a lot). He said if a book doesn’t catch him in the first 3 chapters he sets it aside. He said “it is the writer’s job to keep my interest”. This opened up a whole new path of freedom for me. I adopted it and still use it to this day.

  3. Start with shorter books to build momentum.

    • Find some quick wins. Build your momentum. It feels great to finish a book. Make your first 2-3 books smaller. I will even throw in a short book after a longer one to keep my reading energy up.

  4. Take a speed reading course.

    • My parents paid for me to take a speed reading course before I started my Masters courses. It was one of the greatest gifts! Most of us are taught to read phonetically. This simply means you sound out the words in your head when you read. Your brain is amazing and can comprehend much more. This is one of the reasons people get bored while reading or their mind wanders. Speed reading will unlock a whole new level for you.

  5. Mix it up.

    • I love to read about leadership. But I know that if that was the only thing I read for the rest of my life I would find that they are getting old. I also found my guilty pleasure book category is political intrigue. So I read 2-4 leadership books and 1 (sometimes 2) guilty pleasure books. It keeps it fresh and allows my mind to simply be entertained by reading for a change.

  6. Don’t read books others recommend if they have not read it.

    • If someone recommends a book in conversation, politely ask if they have read it (or finished it). If they have not just thank them and conveniently forget the title. People love to recommend books… that they have read the back cover. I have received one too many empty recommendations.

  7. Don’t read, listen.

    • I usually read 2 books at a time. I have one physical book (kindle or paper) and one going on audible. When i’m in the car I only listen to audible. It allows me to redeem the down time on the drive. What would you rather gain in the car? A new concept that could change your life or a new lyric and melody that you will hum for a few weeks.

We have one of the greatest gifts in life, we get to learn from those who have come before us. We get to stand on the shoulders of giants.


Readers are leaders. Reading is part of a good growth plan. One of the things we do in coaching is help you formulate a growth plan for your leadership and your life. To sweeten the deal, we provide all of our coaching clients our top 50 Leadership Books to help jumpstart you. If you are interested in growth and improvement in leadership, contact us to learn more about how we can help you go from ineffective to influential in your leadership.