I’ve heard it said that leaders are readers. Leaders should be constantly looking to learn. They can learn from experiences they have, and from the people they meet. But a huge source of learning can come from books. And with paperbacks so cheap, e-readers and e-books being so prevalent, and a wealth of information available for free on blogs and websites, there’s never been a better time to learn from reading. So what’s your reading plan?
Three years ago my wife started a new degree course and was given a reading list. I got a bit jealous that she was going to be studying and I wasn’t. And then I realised that I could still create my own reading list of books I wanted to learn from over the course of the year. I set myself a target of reading 24 books over the year, and I passed it. Now I read 36 books each year, i.e. three each month. And I make a few notes after completing each one, to remind me of what I’ve learned.
What type of books are on my reading plan? I have five main categories I pick from.
Leadership/ Management: Since much of my work revolves around training and coaching people in leadership, I try to keep abreast of all the latest books on leadership and management that get released.
History: This is more of a personal than a professional passion, although I do find I learn a huge amount about leadership by reflecting on the lessons of the past that history teaches us. History is an amazing subject since it’s like one giant jigsaw puzzle, and each book you read puts another piece on the board, and also illuminates better the pieces you already know.
Biography: This is closely related to history, since it’s sometimes said that history is but the biography of the great men and women of history writ large. Biographies definitely also teach me lots about leadership. I avoid the current fad for celebrity biographies, but I devour the ones on political leaders, and also read the odd ones from business, sports and journalism.
London: I love taking people on prayer walks about London, teaching them the history and spiritual significance of various places around the city, and praying outside the buildings of current importance. So to inform all of this I read a lot of books on London.
Christian Mission: All the London walks and leadership training is all done in the service of Christian mission, so I try to keep up with the current thoughts on missiology, and also read through the classics on Christian spiritual formation, and on good bible exegesis.
And it goes without saying that I’m daily reading through and studying parts of the Bible.
So that’s my reading plan. Most of it resourcing my leadership and my ministry, and much of it also providing me with relaxation and pleasure. What’s yours?
Mark Williamson works as a director of One Rock. He’s an experienced leadership trainer, author of biographies on John Wesley and William Wilberforce, and is also passionate about praying for London. He enjoys good films, good food, and going for long walks with his wife Joanna. You can follow him on Twitter @markonerock.