Leaders Read: Don’t miss out by missing this

What’s on your reading list?

If leaders read, it stands to reason that your work in leadership — of yourself, of a team or organization– needs to include a thoughtful reading program. How do you think about the precious hours you have to read? Grab the latest copy from what you see in a post? Or take a more considered approach?

Looking over different reading lists, business, leadership, military and others, the biggest thing I see missing is soul, or call it heart, or spirit– what makes us human. And yet at the same time, increasing numbers of articles are asking leaders to be more empathetic, to see their employees as human. If leadership is to evolve, our reading needs to evolve, too.

A few things to consider:

  1. A mix of genres: nonfiction, fiction and poetry. It’s ok to have some reading just for fun, but make sure your reading list in each of these primary genres includes choices based on quality. If one of these genres is unfamiliar, go ahead and look up lists of recommendations, or recent prize winners– but don’t limit yourself to these either! Even better, ask someone you want to know better, or a mentor for ideas. It will be a great way to connect over ideas!
  2. Stretch yourself: don’t only select books based on relation to your profession. Choose authors outside of your field, even significantly tangential. Often we “learn it slant,” as Emily Dickinson said, and lessons come to us most poignantly when they don’t come directly from our own fields (why The Grit Factor resonates across industries and sectors).
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  1. When you’re exploring “stretch” authors, or authors who are outside of your typical reading patterns, go the extra step to learn about what you’re reading. If Shakespeare is hard for you to connect to, do a little extra reading, or watch a video lecture on how to interpret Twelfth Night.
  2. Ensure the authors you read represent diverse perspectives, from multiple angles: gender, race, country of origin, generation and more. This will often require thoughtful work and research. Again, a wonderful opportunity to connect with others for recommendations as well.
  3. Read thoughtfully. Ask yourself: What is the key message? Does the author have an agenda? Is this perspective only reinforcing my own ideas, or am I challenged to think more deeply? What do I think about the issue? Is there another perspective I should consider? Is this perspective in any way harmful or disrespectful of any group of people?

Start with these as your own interrogation into your reading material, and see where things lead. I’d love to hear if it’s changed your perspective on an issue– or even a day.

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Can I help with leadership development in times of challenge and change? Send a note and let’s set up a call.



Shannon H. Polson, Author, Veteran and Founder

LEADERSHIP. GRIT. PURPOSE. The Grit Factor AVAILABLE NOW: https://amzn.to/2GJOnJw Founder: thegritinstitute.com Committed to veterans and women in leadership.