We lose ourselves in books. We find ourselves there too.
One of the essential perks of my job as a leadership and management consultant, trainer and coach in the third sector is that I read. A lot.
It is a habit cultivated in my youth back in the ancient times of the early 1970s and a world of far fewer distractions. And further developed during my time at University.
Reading books is hard work. Sadly, for busy managers, it feels like a step too far. But there are many reasons why I’m going to recommend you busy people stop what you are doing and open a book.
A good management book can do a number of things for you:
- Give you another insight into your current situation
- Help expand your horizons
- Develop your thinking; even if you disagree with the author and perhaps especially when you disagree.
Thought provoking books can help you to reflect on the situation you are working in.
Many of my clients complain that they are too busy to think clearly. But, I have found the deliberate act of reading allows your brain the freedom to review, consider and compare.
In turn it gives you the chance (perhaps a better word is permission) to reflect, daydream and, within that time, begin to find creative responses to your situation.
For some, the right book at the right time can produce a “light bulb” moment.
A recent attendee at my Just about Managing programme picked up a Brian Tracey book on Time Management called “Eat that Frog”. She found it spoke to her and gave her the impetus to overcome chronic procrastination.
This book changed her life. Her words, not mine.
OK. Have I convinced you to pick up on the habit of reading? I hope so! So where do you start? Apparently in the USA in 2014 over 16,000 new business books were published. By a long stretch, not all of them could be called good or even readable.
Personally, I value finding someone who can recommend a few titles to get you started on a topic you feel you need some help with.
Start small. Pick an easy read over a learned tome so that you can start to get through the book. More importantly, it should trigger you to think for yourself and reflect; a key skill for today’s leaders.
Then how do you find the time? It is not easy but takes five minutes to start. I find those five minutes on the train (in place of the Metro). Or while waiting for a client appointment. Sometimes, when the book has gripped me, over lunch and in my leisure time.
Drivers, walkers, joggers and gym goers can take advantage of books on MP3 and get through a book per week with no trouble.
Where there is a will there is a way. But for those of us who struggle with establishing a new habit let me recommend not a book but a website called inhabits.
It is a brilliantly simple way to start doing the things you have always wanted to do but forget or delay.
From the website, they show you an easy formula to start a new habit and even offer free five-day coaching support to get you going on the first three habits you want to establish.
For those more connected to a smartphone, there are many apps available that offer the same thing.
I have a new training course at BVSC on 9th April called Coaching for Line Managers. It is based on my long experience of coaching; both as a manager and freelance trainer, and is backed up with quality reading.
If you are interested in the subject of coaching, I recommend a great starter book called The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier. The author’s big claim is that “This book gives you seven questions and the tools to make them an everyday way to work less hard and have more impact.” A big claim that many of my clients, when I train them in using coaching as one of their management tools, are happy to agree with.
Another attendee from the Just about Managing programme said:
“If Rob recommends a book go and read it.”
So, if you need a recommendation to get you started reading, I can share my top three books in most leadership subjects. Just send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.