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Avid Readers are Stronger Leaders

Avid Readers are Stronger LeadersAs an avid reader and author I was delighted to come across recent research on the impact of reading on leadership effectiveness. In a series of five experiments conducted by social scientists at the New School for Social Research in New York City, they found that readers of literary fiction scored higher in empathy and other measures of emotional and social intelligence.

With Canadian author Alice Munro recently being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for her work as “master of the modern short story” I was especially intrigued by this finding. Alice lives in and writes about small towns in Southern Ontario next door to where I grew up. Her stories are filled with intense and often complex characters wrestling with many of life’s common interpersonal and social challenges. They do cause you to pause and ponder.

In his Harvard Business Review blog, “For Those Who Want to Lead, Read” John Coleman notes, “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.’” He also adds that reading for just six minutes can reduce stress by 68%.

The Irish writer, politician, and magazine cofounder, Sir Richard Steele, said “reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” Tomorrow we publish my October blogs in the November issue of The Leader Letter. Exercising and building natural leadership strengths is a key theme running through many of the articles. We’ll also discuss how most performance appraisals are focused on weaknesses and the trap of “wordwashing” this by just changing the forms. And you’ll get warning signs of career vulnerability as well as Halloween tips for dealing with a scary boss.

After a good read or other learning experience we have more options that when we first started. I hope my blogs and The Leader Letter help you to read, lead, and succeed.


For over three decades, Jim Clemmer’s keynote presentations, workshops, management team retreats, seven bestselling books, articles, and blog have helped hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. The Clemmer Group is the Canadian strategic partner of Zenger Folkman, an award-winning firm best known for its unique evidence-driven, strengths-based system for developing extraordinary leaders and demonstrating the performance impact they have on organizations.


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