Five Questions on Reading and Leadership

I recently sat down with Todd Adkins and Barnabas Piper to discuss leadership and reading for the “Five Questions Leadership Podcast.” You should check out the podcast, which has skyrocketed on iTunes, for some great content. Here are the five questions we discussed, with a few thoughts after each question.

How important is reading for leading?

Of course, reading helps the leader learn the subject being covered in the book, but also reading helps a leader learn to systematically formulate thoughts and effectively articulate them. Beyond just the knowledge acquired, reading helps leaders think. Reading sharpens the mind and keeps a leader growing and learning. Leaders, for better or worse, set the pace in personal development for their teams.

What is the best way to absorb a book?

Sir Francis Bacon said, “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.” Go into the reading of a book knowing your purpose for reading that book. Is it a quick read to keep up to date with an issue OR are you going to use this book to deeply inform your thinking on a subject? For deep reading, I am still a physical book devotee. I like to write all in the margins, fold it a bunch of times, mark it up, spill coffee in the book, and really make it mine.

What are some good reading habits?

As in anything related to personal development, there is a better way than a haphazard approach to reading. Mine is essentially:

  1. Set categories to read in
  2. Choose wisely in those categories
  3. Schedule reading a few nights a week
  4. Maximize down times

What about reading non-book material?

Articles and blogs are typically written with a different purpose, even with a different style. They can be very helpful for the moment as they offer good insight, but for a deeper learning experience—a book trumps a blog. If you only read blogs, you will stay on the surface.

What about favorite books?

My favorite overall book: Parable of Joy

I have told Michael Card this before, but his book Parable of Joy had a big impact on me when I was in college. It helped develop in me a love for walking through a book verse by verse and increased my awe for Jesus.

On Leading Change: Leading Change by John Kotter

Getting Things Done: Four Disciplines of Execution

Soul of a Leader: Spiritual Leadership by Oswald Sanders

Leading a Team: Leadership and the One-Minute Manager