At a recent Army training course that I attended, all the senior leaders who spoke to us mentioned a book that they were reading or had just completed. I wrote them all down and kept them on my "get right on it list" of things to do...and read. They were a mixture of business, military history, and leadership books in which each had found something inspiring or particularly relevant to what they were currently experiencing.
I do my best to expose myself to ideas from a variety of sources. In order to do this...you must be reading. Books, magazines, blogs - all are potential sources of new ideas and learning for you and those you lead. Write down something interesting and share it with your team. If it sticks, you just benefited from the sort of exposure that reading affords.
I read the newspaper every day. All of it. Current events give you the situational awareness you need to anticipate problems and future issues. Sports, entertainment, and local news give you plenty of potential points of connection with customers and subordinates. I also try to subscribe to several magazines so now I get Texas Monthly, Fast Company, Inc, and the Army Engineer journal. Each one gives me something to think about. I don't agree with them all - but they each sharpen my mind in a different way.
As to books, I just finished "Made to Stick (a great book on communication that I will talk about more soon)," and a biography on S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-a restaurants. I also have developed an interest in Real Estate and read two books from the "Rich Dad" series. And I'm reading a book by my friend Steve Harper, The Ripple Effect, on developing and maintaining meaningful connections, a great reminder that as leaders we are first and foremost in the relationship business!
So let me ask you this: What are you reading? What new idea have you picked up and how will you apply it in your personal or professional life? How can you share it with someone else? I'd like to hear about it.
Learning is a lifelong pursuit. And you must be constantly reading to stay fresh - and relevant. That's Leader Business.