A new year leadership reading diet

by Kate on January 3, 2013

Your business needs you to grow as a leader, but perhaps this year you should read fewer articles on how to be a better leader? Reading them may not help as much as you think. It’s what you do that will make a difference, but are you so busy reading that you don’t have time to work out what matters most?

I’m continuing today with the theme from earlier this week: working out what not to do in 2013, so you have the capacity to create a remarkable year.

A look at the Twitterverse, snippets of advice on Linkedin and shared pictures on Facebook and Pinterest could yield a new “most important question to ask” every day. With many such questions, if you were to stop and give the question serious consideration you’d be caught up for a day reflecting on it.

That’s not to say there aren’t some good questions to ask. One of the characteristics of a good leader is they ask good questions. Questions are a key to insights that help us improve. Unless we ask questions, we face the risk of mindlessly repeating mistakes, failing to perceive the need for change and limiting our personal growth.

Reading just one more article might yield that perfect question. Might. Sometimes.

But with all you have to accomplish (you’ve got goals, right?), you’ll need disciplined to avoid getting distracted by too many shiny blue balls and to actually get things done.

Consider what might happen if you were to exercise some discipline about what management and leadership material you read and how you read it.

Here are three suggestions for a leadership reading diet:

  • Rather than dive into every random leadership article or Tweet, choose one book a month, read it, reflect and discuss with others around you.
  • Limit your casual browsing and reading to a specific day/time or source (use bookmarks or favourites as needed). Purge unread stuff regularly.
  • Broaden your reading. History, biography and fiction can all yield leadership lessons.

Now, if you were going to take on board a couple of things to read or view, which will give you food for thought for weeks ahead, here are a couple to consider. (Yes, I do know I am giving you more to consider, but these really are worthwhile – perhaps schedule a time for them later?)

In this article, Les McKeown, nails it on the need for us to make time to think our leadership is to make a difference. What I enjoy about Les’ writing is that it’s practical advice, real world things you can do. It’s a short article. Give it a go!

And this talk by Ben Zander is still one of my favourite leadership videos from TED.

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