Anyone who aspires to any position of leadership at whatever level of governance should read wide. Read beyond your field of study, that’s the admonition I can give anyone who desires to be a successful leader today. It may not have been so in the ages past. A leader should know better than those they lead. A leader shows the way, if they are not ignorant or poorly informed.
If you want to know the strength of a leader, their knowledge base will give you a clue. A knowledgeable leader is unlikely to be perplexed even when facing complex situations. Reading books and other educative materials equip a leader to deal effectively with issues without fear. When a leader is well armed with knowledge, they lead with confidence. When you see great leaders, they’re like a walking encyclopedia.
After acquiring basic education and training in their field of study, a leader should have a sound knowledge of their area of leadership. If you are a military leader, for instance, you should know a lot about weapon systems, how to manage men and material to achieve victory in war or maintain peace in crisis situations. A deep knowledge of military science and contemporary materials in political economy, information and computer technology, history, philosophy, law and management are essential for a leader of an army with great belligerence capability.
It is not enough for a military leader to know about the armed forces or other subjects taught in the military institution. Every officer should know about political administration, and other civil subjects to equip them for leadership, in case they are called upon to lead their country or a civilian entity during an emergency. This should not be misconstrued as asking the army to equip soldiers for coups. No, not at all. A professional in any field could be summoned to a leadership position in their country. That’s why everyone should read beyond their course of study.
There’re many state governors today who didn’t study political science. We have had Senate presidents and Speakers of parliament who were not lawyers and graduates of political science or public administration. Some of our political leaders are doctors, engineers, architects, lawyers, accountants, scientists, etc. You ought to read wide because you may be called upon to function in a leadership position in a field different from your area of expertise.
George Weah was a footballer. He is the President of Liberia at this writing. If he knows nothing about political governance, I wonder if he could function effectively. If you want to be a leader you should form a reading habit. That’s the only way you can govern effectively. Besides, Lord Bacon, an English philosopher, said, “Education makes a man whole.”
Reading should not be confused with education. In any case, you can’t be educated without having to read. They are synonymous. You actually read to get some information or education about a subject.
In some professions like law, medicine and journalism, you just have to keep reading to stay current. The clergy, too, must read to be able to preach. The bible says the lips of a priest keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord, Mal 2:7. A priest can only keep knowledge and dispense the law of God if he studies. When you hear a shallow sermon, you know the preacher has no knowledge.
One reason why a leader should read wide is that every leader is likely to read a mass of documents in order to take decisions. Imagine how voluminous a budget is! Some reports a President has to read come in large volumes, even if their aides help peruse those documents and merely give the leader a summary, it is still a huge task reading those condensed documents. Therefore, the earlier the aspiring leader forms a reading habit, the better.
One bad thing about books is that we tend to forget almost all of their contents after a while. It is said that only about 10 per cent of what we read is retained in our memory. So, you might be lucky to remember just 10 per cent of the contents of any material you read. You make up for this by reading such books all over again.
This is one reason we have private libraries. You keep books and go back to them once in a while to refresh. Reading keeps the mind active so it does not become atrophied. Some of the books I can recommend to aspiring leaders are biographies, autobiographies, histories of important revolutions, scientific discoveries, war histories, business strategies, and other materials on your area of leadership.
If you can afford it, one recommended reading that would profit a future President of a country is a set of books titled “Great Books of the Western World,” published by the Encyclopedia Britannica.
The titles cover virtually all subjects you can think of and the beauty is that they contain the literary landmarks in world literature, written by the greatest minds from different countries and cultures across centuries. These books cover different epochs in world history. Space constraints won’t allow me to mention the names of the authors here. Just get to read some of these books, they will edify you.
Weekend Spice: Success is not an event. It is a lifelong journey – John Hagee
Ok folks, enjoy your weekend. Stay motivated.
•Ayodeji is an author, rights activist, pastor and life coach. He can be reached for
mentoring and counselling on 09059243004 (SMS and WhatsApp only)