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Want to improve your business? Read.

Because you are reading this, it’s indicative of your passion for information and “knowledge is power” mindset. It also shows that you understand your competitive advantage!
Many people view themselves as overly busy, stretched-too-thin business owners and leaders, who often don’t allow themselves the luxury of reading for business, pleasure, or at all. Wouldn’t your time be better spent selling or finalizing payroll? Not necessarily.

Deep, broad reading habits define great leaders.

Deep, broad reading habits define great leaders and can spark insight, innovation, empathy and personal success. This translates into better business ideas, effective leadership and stronger organizations. But “Reading has declined among every group of adult Americans,” according to The National Endowment for the Arts – and this includes business people.
I know what you’re thinking, “You’re telling me to read more? Is that really the answer? It seems too simple.” Well, maybe everything you needed to know you really did learn in kindergarten! If you’re a business owner, director or manager, you need to be a thought leader and finding inspiration, knowledge, information and trends is paramount.
You need to give yourself permission to stay connected to industry trends and delegate some of the tasks weighing you down in order to find inspiration. Your employees will thank you for it – by paying attention to the big picture, you can give your direct reports a well-developed strategy, execution plan and follow up/follow through.
So, when you actually get a moment to read, where do you start? Keeping abreast of the latest trends within your industry again is a wonderful starting point. Also, consider expanding your knowledge base into other fields such as sociology, economic, psychology, etc. and applying principles to your organization. This strategy makes you more likely to be innovative, prosperous and an effective leader.
What’s more, reading is actually a way to relax (which we all need!); reading for six minutes can reduce stress by 68%. It also really does make you smarter, developing “a larger vocabulary and more world knowledge in addition to abstract reasoning skills. So picking up a book or perusing the web really can’t hurt!
By focusing on expanding your mind and knowledge base, you will actually help your business grow (multi-tasking at its finest!). Here are some takeaway points to consider:

  • Vary your reading. If you typically only read the business and financial section of the New York Times, think about broadening your exposure to novels, history, biographies, etc.
  • Apply your reading to your job. Using tactics, strategies and tips you’ve read can help you problem solve at work.
  • Encourage your team to read. With more reading throughout the workplace, your colleagues and direct reports can raise the bar within the organization.
  • Read for pleasure. Not all reading has to be focused on your profession. Read for fun to relax and escape.

Source: Harvard Business Review

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