Mark Cole: All Great Leaders Have One Thing In Common

All great leaders read.

And I’m not talking about skimming through the newspaper each morning over coffee. I’m talking about devouring knowledge!

Did you know that the average American only reads one book a year? Compare that with the fact that the average CEO reads four to five books a month.

Some of the most successful leaders throughout history were known to read one book every single day. Teddy Roosevelt was rumored to actually read two books a day. Abraham Lincoln only had one year of formal education, yet credited his appetite for reading with his success.

Here’s the bottom line: if you’re a leader and not an avid reader, you’re behind.

Studies show that active readers are likely to have annual incomes more than five times greater than those who spend little or no time reading.

Do I have your attention yet?

In order to be a great leader, you absolutely must be a great reader. Here’s why:

1. Reading is foundational for personal development.

I love this quote from Dr. Seuss, “The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you will go.”

Great leaders are like sponges when it comes to the acquisition of knowledge, the development of new skill sets, and the constant refinement of existing competencies. The best leaders I know are prolific readers.

Now, there are certainly numerous ways to learn: observation, experience, trainings, relational interactions, etc. But I am a huge fan of personal and professional development gained from good old-fashioned reading.

There is one simple reason why—it works!

2. Reading is the pathway to learning.

John Maxwell puts it this way, “I don’t know about you, but I’m still learning. Moreover, the day I stop reading, the day I stop learning, that’s the day I stop leading and likely the day I stop breathing.”

A leader who does not have a posture of learning is in decline. How can you expect to grow an organization if you’re not growing yourself?

When it comes to the topic of learning, I have observed that there are generally 3 types of people:

1) those who constantly seek to acquire knowledge,

2) those who think they already know it all, and

3) those who don’t care to know.

What distinguishes members of one group from the others rarely has anything to do with intellect, wealth, social pedigree, career standing, or other like pursuits.

It has everything to do with desire and passion for learning.

If you want to improve your station in life, as well as the lives around you, my recommendation is simple: read more!

The question is not if you should be reading, but rather what you should be reading.

Leaders are readers. It’s the one thing all great leaders have in common—and it’s not to late to join their ranks. Grab a book and get started today!

14 Comments

  1. Monqiue Walkes on February 22, 2019 at 8:59 am

    Well said! I was told that one of my previous employees, said I should stop reading and learn what people want or something to that affect. Really! Wow! Needless to say that person is no longer employed with my business.

  2. Ellie Tarence on February 22, 2019 at 10:09 am

    so good

  3. Juliette Greene born Blijden on February 22, 2019 at 11:24 am

    I agree that one must be an avid reader and we should consider that each persons level of retention differs. I say this to emphasize that for everyone, the method to apply this practice will differ and I believe we should consider that as a fundamental aspect.

  4. Lillian Gitau on February 22, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    Couldn’t agree more! If only a day had more than 24 hours….I have a pile. Thanks for highlighting this very critical aspect of personal development!

  5. Tolulope Toluwade on February 23, 2019 at 5:30 am

    Wowww..

    This is so true.

    Thanks for the motivation.

  6. Tolulope Toluwade on February 23, 2019 at 5:31 am

    Wowww..

    This is so true.

    Thanks for the motivation

  7. Paige Wescott on February 23, 2019 at 7:30 am

    Thank you for the encouragement, the confirmation, the correction and the wisdom you share! I am consistently learning so much from you, your insights, examples and teachings! SO GRATEFUL for all you, Dr. John and the team bring to MY TEAM and MY LIFE! Be blessed! Know you are impacting us all in such a powerful and transformational way!

  8. Jeff on February 24, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    Serious reading didn’t start for me until mid-30’s. Has been critical for me since. Thanks for the reinforcement!

    • Jeff on February 24, 2019 at 7:40 pm

      Just started my own blog site too. Lots of learning on this!

  9. Olario on February 25, 2019 at 9:19 pm

    Thanks for all your help to make us better and I hope God helps you with Devine wisdoms so you can share it with us.

  10. Mike on March 1, 2019 at 11:32 am

    Can you list 5 books you recommend to read?

  11. Angel Luis Roman on March 2, 2019 at 3:19 pm

    Reading got me out of poverty. I started with comic books as a kid till this day where I will intentionally want to read several books around the same time. Proverbs 4 exhorts us to seek wisdom and in all of our getting, to get understanding.

  12. Monte Holt on March 3, 2019 at 1:20 am

    Reading is absolutely necessary, but I would take it a step further and say that the “acquiring of knowledge” is the main ingredient of a leader. With the amount of mediums that exist and the people that have found the power in giving knowledge, we now see the potential for even more growth in our knowledge as leaders.

    Great principle and a great take away in knowing that “knowledge is power” and the more you know, the more powerful a leader you can become.

  13. Leaders Hangout on March 4, 2019 at 5:27 am

    I agree with you that has a positive effect on leadership. After all, how can one lead others if he/she does not read ahead?
    The only problem I foresee here is when one reads and reads and never put the knowledge in practice. Such an unfortunate thing can happen to a leader.

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