Leaders are readers (Albert Mohler)
This article is taken from the book The conviction to lead by Albert Mohler
In general, we should avoid clichés, but the claim that leaders are readers is an exception. Leader and reader are inseparable. The reason is simple: There is no other way but effective reading to develop and maintain the intelligence necessary for the task of leading.
I'm guessing you already knew that. After all, you are blogging about it. Your desk probably has stacks of books, magazines, and newspapers just waiting to be read, and your briefcase is certainly full of documents to read. Intelligent thoughts, ideas, and information must constantly fuel leadership. You cannot learn the fundamentals of leadership without reading.
Leaders read even when no one seems to be reading. Author Mary Higgins Clark was a former flight attendant for the American airline Pan American . At that time, Ms. Clark had noticed that in flight, almost all passengers were reading a book. “Now,” she says, “everyone has a computer or watches television. "
All except the leaders. The explosion of leadership books and articles is a testament to the fact that leaders are avid readers and consumers of all that is written. Leading by conviction requires an even deeper commitment to reading and requires the mental discipline developed by a habit of diligent and effective reading. Why? Because convictions must be nurtured by constant mental activity. The leader analyzes, takes into consideration, defines and constantly confirms the convictions that will govern his leadership.
Heal and nourish our convictions
Beliefs are both the product of the mind and the heart. Beliefs have an emotional as well as an intellectual component. The Christian tradition deals abundantly with a commitment to the faith as a matter of the heart. Christian beliefs take hold of our minds and hearts through Christian teaching and the preaching of the Word of God. Indeed, most of us learn our most fundamental beliefs this way. We hear them, they are revealed to us in the Bible, and then we believe them.
However, growing Christians don't just listen, they read too. We can learn a lot from what we hear, but learning by listening has its limits. Reading words is different than hearing them. Usually, if we hear a text recited and then read it, we notice a lot of detail that we did not notice when reading aloud.
Leaders know that reading is essential because it is the primary means of developing and deepening their understanding. This is why leaders learn to spend a lot of time reading. Our mind must be fed a constant flow of information if we are to lead. Nothing can replace reading to produce this flow. It enriches and refines beliefs, especially when we "filter" it through analysis based on a worldview. Leaders have a duty to develop and realize their vision. An attentive reader does not read simply to collect data. The leader learns to invest more in reading as a discipline in order to acquire critical thinking.
How should we read?
You are already a reader, but how can you hone this skill to make it more profitable for you? Reading is Like Any Other Skill Most people are happy to use it to a lesser extent. For some, reading is a natural talent, while others put more effort into this skill. The key to success is to improve throughout life.
Your primary concern should be reading first to understand. Otherwise, your reading will contribute very little to your life and leadership skills. Before you start reading a book, ask yourself a few questions about it. What type of book is this? For most readers, reading a fictional novel is very different from reading a treatise on economics. How dense is its content? Some books and articles can be read very quickly, while others take much longer. What do you need to know about the author? What is the purpose and topic of his book? Why did you include it in your reading list?
Establish your own reading rules and habits. Don't worry about what any teacher told you years ago. I like to start with the cover and the table of contents of a book. The main purpose of a book's cover was to protect it, but today it contains a wealth of information, whether it's a short biography of the author or information about the publisher. The table of contents, if it is well structured, is in a way the outline of the book. Reading is much more effective if the reader knows the direction of the book beforehand.
You should read a book or article based on its value. If you don't feel like the book adds anything to your life and your leadership, put it aside. The world is filled with books and other reading materials. In this regard, time is more important than money. Does the book get you thinking? Do you think it inspires new ideas as you read it? If so, read on. Otherwise, close it and choose another one.
Learn to read analytically. Reading is not just an exchange of information and ideas. This is a conversation between author and reader. Reading is a kind of silent but intense conversation. As you read, interview the author and filter the contents of the book using your beliefs. Chat with the book and its author as needed. Accept their opinion and expand on it when it's appropriate.
Use the book as a notepad. In other words, write in your books. Make the book your own by writing down points of agreement and disagreement, highlighting the most important parts of the text, underlining and drawing when you feel the need to. Unless the copy of the book you are holding has historical or emotional value, don't limit yourself in your notations. Writing notes in your books adds a lot of value to your reading, greatly helps you memorize the content, and contributes to the development of your thinking. I can reread a book I read a very long time ago and relive it as if it was my first time reading it. My ratings and comments make it possible. When I reread a book, it often strikes me that I read it in a different way, putting notes next to other passages and asking the author new questions.
Reading analytically also means that we assess the credibility and clarity of the author's thinking. Does the author have the skill and authority to make these arguments or speak about this information? Do the arguments meet the criteria of truth, honesty and relevance? Are the claims based on credible evidence and reasoning? These are all essential questions a reader should ask themselves about a book. You might also ask the following questions: What was the author's goal in writing this book? What do I hope to get from this reading?
Should you read slowly or quickly? It all depends on your reading style and the nature of the book. Some readers can read very quickly while withholding information and be stimulated to think deeply. Other readers need more time. No matter what category you fall into, continue to read and develop your reading skills throughout your life. Likewise, some books can be read fairly quickly, while others require more time. A friend of mine categorizes some books as "read in the bathtub", lighter content books that can be read almost anywhere and anytime. In addition, there are books which require purposeful and careful reading, which can challenge the mind and memory. Read this type of book more slowly.
When you can, read for pleasure. Novelist James Patterson wisely advises parents to find out what kind of books their children like, and let them grow up and marvel at reading it. Once they fall in love with reading, that love can spread to other categories of books. Children who never enjoy reading seldom become good readers. The same principle applies to adults. We can train ourselves to love reading.
What should we read?
You should read like you eat. In other words, pay attention to your diet. The priority reading for a Christian is the Word of God. Our spiritual maturity will never surpass our knowledge of the Bible, which is an especially important principle for Christian leaders. In addition to this reading, Christian leaders should read serious Christian books, which are books aimed at spiritual health and deep reflection. At the top of the list should be the classics of Christian thought and devotion.
In this regard, you should prioritize old books. C. S. Lewis, who certainly wanted people to read contemporary books, strongly advised readers to give preference to old books: “Of course, since I'm a writer myself, I don't want readers to stop. to read modern books. However, if they had to choose between the new and the old, I would advise them to read some old 2 books. Lewis explains that the old books have proven their worth through their survival and influence. That's great advice.
Should leaders read fiction novels? Many leaders are uncertain, but the answer is undeniably "yes". Leaders need to read fiction novels for fun, for learning, and for the context of the story itself. Fiction is important because it allows the reader to experience someone else's time, life, and thought. Novels and short stories can be powerful, telling a story powerfully.While enjoying reading the story, leaders also learn to improve their own narrative presentations and communication skills. relevant to their work and mission. The leader should learn to read reviews and advertisements for books in major newspapers, magazines and websites. Of course, many of the books that matter most to us are those recommended by friends. When leaders meet, books are usually part of the conversation.
The same is true, to a large extent, of the best non-fiction works. Leaders are big consumers of historical biographies. Their natural instincts lead them to learn about past leaders in order to appropriate their strengths and avoid their weaknesses. However, a wise leader will expand his list of topics to include history, economics, current affairs, and politics. Add to that the growing number of business and management titles published each year. Obviously, no leader can read them all, but the best books should be on their list.
What about newspapers, magazines and newsletters? A leader with potential knows these readings are important too. Despite the decreasing number of newspapers printed in circulation, they remain very influential and informative. As a rule of thumb, leaders who want to keep up with the news should read New York Times , Wall Street Journal , and USA Today , as well. than their local newspaper. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are the most influential newspapers in the United States and they generally balance each other in terms of point of view and media coverage. They both offer comprehensive news coverage and the quality of analysis readers seek - even when wise leaders consider newspaper editorial bias. The USA Today offers a summary of the news. Your local newspaper is the best guide to local affairs. These logs can be read quickly or slowly, depending on your time and interest. You can be sure of one thing: The most influential leaders in business, academia, politics, entertainment, and the media read these newspapers daily.
While newspapers are the primary source of reports and analysis, magazines and newsletters are second to them. Major news weeklies and intellectual magazines are extremely influential in popular culture. The leader should plan a reading regime that will include this type of material, but remember that the content of most magazines will quickly become obsolete. In addition to keeping up to date with the news, leaders will learn communication and writing skills from the best magazines and periodicals. The writing of these periodicals is often lively and expressive in order to attract and maintain the reader's attention. The wise leader should communicate in the same way.
When should we read?
You will never have enough time to read everything you want to read or even everything you think should read. Just keep reading. Save time for reading and spend all your free time reading. Keep reading materials with you at all times, or at least close at hand.Travel, although it takes time for other activities, often allows me to read. Some books can be read in a flight or two. Respecting your preferences, adopt habits that will allow you to optimize your reading and its value.
Keep a stack of books ready to read and take a few with you when you plan to travel. Keep one in your briefcase to read when you need to wait at the airport or at the doctor's office.
Read, if possible, times when you can memorize or think productively. For some people this time may be early in the morning and for others it may be late at night. There are times of the year that are good times for reading, such as holidays and public holidays. I find it useful to plan reading projects. Each year, I plan two or three to better understand a particular issue or area of knowledge. Make a short list of books in one area and try to read them. You'll be surprised how many you can read in a year.
I also advise you to divide your reading plan into three categories. The first section should contain the books that you should read. The second should include the books that you should read. Then the last section should contain the books you want read. Thinking about it will give you a better idea of the order to follow. With this structure in mind, you will be better able to plan your reading time.
Christian leaders learn to read wisely because of their deepest beliefs. Constant analysis of a worldview becomes a reflex as the leader develops the skill and competence of spiritual discernment. Test everything you read by analyzing it through the lens of Bible truth and your beliefs. Know that your most uplifting and productive thoughts will often arise from reading an author with whom you disagree, even through critical reflection and discernment. Those who want to lead with conviction must read with conviction..