Leadership Development: Starting Your Personal Reading Program
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When I started to put together this post on creating a reading program as part of your leadership development, I thought to myself, "Who knows more about this than anyone I know?" The answer was Todd Sattersten, co-author of The 100 Best Business Books and of All Time and Change This Manifesto called "How To Read A Business Book."
I asked Todd for some thoughts on creating a business reading program. His reply was so lucid and complete, I give it to you essentially as he gave it to me. Here's Todd.
Leaders should strive to read one book a month. It breaks down to about 15 minutes a day, time well spent. If you can't read, get audiobooks. The trouble there is a smaller selection of choices.
The best place to start reading is focusing on improving yourself. You are normally the biggest roadblock that prevents you from reaching your goals. It's the reason we put the You chapter in the front of The 100 Best Business Books of All Time.
Start by read the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and How To Win Friends and Influence People back to back. Covey promotes character while Carnegie promotes personality. See what those look like side by side and see if Covey makes a valid argument that personality is a secondary trait to character.
Man's Search for Meaning would be a worthwhile choice for the first year of your structured reading plan. I would also throw in Questions of Character by Joe Badaracco if you are considering the greater view of ethics and how to live.
The next books you need will help you decide how you are going to work. What I am going to do today? How I am going to decide what comes first?
Getting Things Done is a great example of this. The First 90 Days shows you very specifically how to start a job. The Little Red Book of Selling by Jeffery Gitomer or The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki show the salesperson or entrepreneur what skills to develop and where to concentrate their time. The best nuts and bolts management book of 2009 was The Four Conversations by Jeff and Laurie Ford.
After that you need to be reading a book every quarter on your function. Find a classic like Positioning for marketers or The Goal for operations or Why We Buy for retail. Then find the latest thing. William Poundstone has a great new book called Priceless that would work for anyone in the commercial side of business.
A leader needs to read two or three books a year that broaden their view of the world. Richard Florida's Rise of the Creative Class or Kevin Kelly's Out of Control fit the bill. Malcolm Gladwell's books normally fit into this slot as well. The goal is to turn your world just a little and see something different. Drive by Daniel Pink is going to be a popular choice in 2010.
So, start with you the person, then you the worker, you the knowledge worker, then you looking at the greater world.
Boss's Bottom Line
There's no one reading plan that's right for everyone. Use Todd's recommendations as a starting point. Then modify to suit.
Wally's Working Supervisor's Support Kit is a collection of information and tools to help working supervisors do a better job. It's based on what Wally's learned in over twenty years of supervisory skills training. Click here to check it out.