Global literacy rates continue to climb, but at the same time people becoming less involved in reading, specifically deep reading.

Besides the obvious, why is reading so important? It can be seen that deep, broad reading habits are often accompanied by insight, innovation, empathy, and personal effectiveness. These characteristics often allow for more effectiveness in leading others. With the wide-range of benefits, it’s no surprise leaders such as Steve Jobs, Phil Knight, Winston Churchill are avid readers.

Harvard Business Review suggests if you want to lead, start to read. Take a look their article for a host of benefits reading provides along with some practical tips on how to become a better, deeper reader yourself:

For Those Who Want to Lead, Read

The leadership benefits of reading are wide-ranging. Evidence suggests reading can improve intelligence and lead to innovation and insight. Some studies have shown, for example, that reading makes you smarter through “a larger vocabulary and more world knowledge in addition to the abstract reasoning skills.” Reading — whether Wikipedia, Michael Lewis, or Aristotle — is one of the quickest ways to acquire and assimilate new information. Many business people claim that reading across fields is good for creativity. And leaders who can sample insights in other fields, such as sociology, the physical sciences, economics, or psychology, and apply them to their organizations are more likely to innovate and prosper.

Reading can also make you more effective in leading others. Reading increases verbal intelligence (PDF), making a leader a more adept and articulate communicator. Reading novels can improve empathy and understanding of social cues, allowing a leader to better work with and understand others — traits that author Anne Kreamer persuasively linked to increased organizational effectiveness, and to pay raises and promotions for the leaders who possessed these qualities. And any business person understands that heightened emotional intelligence will improve his or her leadership and management ability.

Finally, an active literary life can make you more personally effective by keeping you relaxed and improving health. For stressed executives, reading is the best way to relax, as reading for six minutes can reduce stress by 68%, and some studies suggest reading may even fend off Alzheimer’s, extending the longevity of the mind.

Reading more can lead to a host of benefits for business people of all stripes, and broad, deep reading can make you a better leader. So how can you get started? Here are a few tips:

  • Join a reading group. One of my friends meets bimonthly with a group of colleagues to read classics in philosophy, fiction, history, and other areas. Find a group of friends who will do the same with you.
  • Vary your reading. If you’re a business person who typically only reads business writing, commit to reading one book this year in three areas outside your comfort zone: a novel, a book of poetry, or a nonfiction piece in science, biography, history, or the arts.
  • Apply your reading to your work. Are you struggling with a problem at work? Pick up a book on neuroscience or psychology and see if there are ways in which you can apply the lessons from those fields to your profession.
  • Encourage others. After working on a project with colleagues, I’ll often send them a book that I think they’ll enjoy. Try it out; it might encourage discussion, cross-application of important lessons, and a proliferation of readers in your workplace.
  • Read for fun. Not all reading has to be developmental. Read to relax, escape, and put your mind at ease.

Read the entire article from the Harvard Business Review.

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