The fact you are actually reading this chapter would suggest you needn’t have bothered. In a world of 280-character messaging it is increasingly rare that people read anything longer than a few lines. It seems most people think a quick skim-read is enough and the back story is missed completely. 

Good leaders go well beyond this minimalist approach. A deep passion for their jobs sees them read extensively in their areas of interest. They subscribe to journals, e-newsletters, blogs, whitepapers and any other sources of new, interesting takes on day-today challenges. This reading keeps them up-to-date with industry trends and keeps their thinking fresh and open to possibilities. The depth of this reading also provides an extensive appreciation of the
context and history behind key issues and decisions.

Leaders also read widely outside their core expertise. Their curiosity sees them explore how other leaders, other industries and other cultures operate. The relevance of this wider reading can be hit and miss, but it is never wasted. Those that are open to alternative ways of operating, can always find a link to their own circumstances. As an example, biographies detailing the strategies of great leaders of history are too far removed from modern times to provide direct links that can be used. But these stories can still be powerfully motivating, insightful, heart-warming and reassuring as they re-tell the triumphs and failures of leaders from very different times.

The biggest challenge when deciding to read more is how to select from the millions of options, the best and most valuable things to read. One approach is to use your network. Find out what is on the reading list of other leaders you admire. Not just the most popular publications, but the items that other leaders would never give up or miss.

ONE MORE SMALL STEP – in the next 24 hours
Do a Google search and find the 25 most read publications in your chosen field. Then use this list to ask other leaders in your organisation and your industry to select the five publications they would recommend. Collate the results and start your subscription to get access to the overall top five. Try to discipline yourself to read these publications for two months before looking further.

Use the same network of contacts to recommend other reading from outside your industry or profession. Be open to as many wild ideas and suggestions as possible. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you discover.

Dr Shaun Ridley is Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Learning and Development) at the Australian Institute of Management in WA. His extensive experience in leadership, strategy and learning and development has been gained through his work with hundreds of organisations, across all sectors both domestically and internationally.