Leaders are Readers: How to Develop a Reading Plan

Leaders are Readers

I used to hate reading. I avoided it like the plague. I felt like my time could be better spent elsewhere. Over the course of my first year post-college, I did not read one book from cover to cover. It was pathetic.

The average American reads 3-6 books a year. That same average American will also watch about 35 hours of television… this week! That’s 35 hours that could’ve been invested into your own development and growth.

If you want to lead anyone, you’ve got to take that time back.

Maybe you’re not a big reader. Perhaps you’re one of the 27% of Americans who didn’t read a single book last year. That’s ok. You don’t need to become an overnight book-worm.

What you do need, however, is a plan.

Developing a Reading Plan

If you’re going to go from 1 or 2 books a year to 15-20, you’ve got to map out a plan for making that happen.

Set Realistic Goals

Some numbers to consider:

  • The average adult reads at about 300 words per minute.
  • A 200-page book comes in at right around 80,000 words.
  • Using that standard, it takes the average adult reader about 4.5 hours to read a book.

Let’s be liberal with the numbers and say it takes you 7 hours to read a book. That gives you plenty of time to slow down, reflect, take notes, etc.

Take a look at your schedule and see how much time you can carve out for reading each day.

  • An hour a day puts you at 4-5 books a month/52 books a year.
  • A half an hour a day comes out to 2-3 books a month/26 a year.
  • 15 minutes each day means 1-2 books a month/13 books a year.

That’s right. 15 minutes of reading each day will put you on track to read 4 times as many books as the average american reader. Look at your schedule. I promise you that there’s 15 minutes a day in there for you to spend on reading.

Pick the Right Books

You’ve only got so much time to spend on reading. You don’t want to waste that precious time on books that don’t help you grow or at least entertain you. In order to save time, I choose books for my reading list based solely on recommendations from people I know and trust.

That said, here are some excellent books for developing your leadership skills:

These are all affiliate links.

Take Your Time

What matters most is the quality of time spent reading, not the quantity. Use your reading goals as a guideline for staying on track, but not as an oppressive standard. The true goal is for you to retain what you’re reading and to grow.

If that means you need to dial it back from 2 books a month to 1, then do that. The more important accountability piece here is the time spent reading; not the number of books read.

What About Blogs?

I love reading blogs and I love that you read blogs like mine. They’re great. I’ve intentionally left them out of my reading plan, however, because I want my blog reading to be strictly supplemental to my actual reading. My reasons:

  • Books undergo numerous layers of quality control before they get to you.
  • Books are more timeless in nature.
  • Books tend to take a more holistic approach to the topic at hand.
  • Reading a book forces me to focus on one topic and track along with it for an extended period of time.
  • Book reading pulls me away from the ultra-distracting world of my laptop and the internet.

Is reading all that I need to do in order to become a better leader?

I wish.

If it were, I would be the President of the United States. Growing as a leader is a process with many facets and steps. Tomorrow, we’re going to talk about intentionally seeking out training from other leaders. Subscribe to my RSS feed so that you don’t miss out.

  1. Be honest. How many books do you read per year?
  2. If you’re not reading as much as you’d like, what do you think is holding you back?
  3. How many books would you like to read this year?


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