A lit candle against a dark backdrop.

Every leader needs to make reading an essential practice. The ability to lead well is influenced by the availability and quality of the information we use to make decisions, and one of the best ways to access new and pertinent information is to read a wide variety of sources. It’s tempting to say we just don’t have the time to add reading to our list of things to do, but the reality is that most of us don’t need more time: We simply need to reallocate the time we already have.

You may feel overwhelmed by the thought of dusting off the 600-page nonfiction book you bought last year and never read. Maybe you do want to revisit that tome, but even if you prefer short stories, novels or academic journals, you are still going to reap the benefits of regular reading. Leaders are communicators, and the more you read, the better you learn to communicate. You learn to think more critically, write more clearly and express your ideas in more compelling ways.

Through an author’s written words, you will encounter new perspectives. What you experience in the text will challenge you or expand your thinking about issues that you confront daily in your life and work. As leaders, we need the time and space to step back from our immediate circumstances and discover the new insights that only emerge when we examine ourselves and our context from a slightly different point of view. Reading is a gift that allows us to travel into the past, reimagine the present, and peer into the future without ever leaving the living room chair. So, what’s on your reading list?


Reading together is radical

By Gabby Cudjoe Wilkes

Before you go…

A staff member at my church taught me that when you are new to an organization, one of the first things you should do is ask the leader for a list of books or articles that have influenced how he or she thinks about the institution’s mission, vision and culture. The goal is not to parrot the leader, but simply to be able to speak the same language. According to C. S. Lewis, “We read to know that we are not alone.” Reading not only connects us to a work’s author, but as Gabby Cudjoe Wilkes reminds us, reading together connects us to one another. 

You can always reach me and the Alban Weekly team at alban@duke.edu. Until next week, keep leading and reading!

Prince Rivers

Editor, Alban at Duke Divinity

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