You may be working now in some management position, or looking for a job with management duties. Either way, business consultant John Coleman says you can really help yourself by reading more, especially by reading more widely and more deeply.
People in business are reading less than they used to, he says. And this is definitely a troubling development because great leaders are also great readers. Reading widely can help with gaining new insight, in making innovation, in gaining empathy for others, and in improving personal effectiveness, he says.
Coleman mentions a few business leaders who were or are avid readers: Steve Jobs, who loved the English poet William Blake; Nike owner Phil Knight, who makes people take off their shoes and bow when they enter his library; Sidney Harman, who loves poetry; Carlyle Group founder David Rubenstein, who reads dozens of books each week.
Research has shown that reading can improve intelligence and spur innovation and insight. It adds to your cognitive ability by improving your vocabulary, giving you more knowledge about the world and helping with abstract reasoning ability. Many business people say that reading in a variety of disciplines is a good way to spur your creativity. Reading can help with innovation because you may come across something in another area – in sociology, science, economics, or psychology – that you can apply to your own area.
Coleman also notes how reading can add to a person’s verbal proficiency, which can make you more articulate and better at communicating. Also, reading novels has been shown to improve how people read social cues, which can help in working with other people.
And there is something else that reading can do for business people that has received little attention – it can actually help to reduce stress. Reading is one of the best ways to relax. Studies have shown that reading for just six minutes can reduce stress by almost 70 percent. Other studies have provided some evidence to show that reading can also delay the onset of diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
So, to get the most out of your reading, vary what you read. Go outside of your field and read about other areas of knowledge. And look for ways that what you read can be applied to the problems and challenges you face at work.
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