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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Read to ..Lead

“Reading maketh a full man and
Writing an exact man” – Sir Francis Bacon

This quote was printed on the backside of my college Identity card (it was way back in early ‘80s).  The impressionable mind took it in the earnest spirit & I went on a reading spree; right from Irving Wallace, Robin Cook, Alistair MacLean, Jeffrey Archer, Arthur Conan Doyle to P G Wodehouse  to Asimovs of the world ! Later on, B-school opened a new frontier & I started reading management books voraciously..

In today’s world, due to the onslaught of 24*7 TV channels & the ‘always-on’ social-media network (thanks to the smartphones), the good old habit of reading has taken a backseat. (Rather, the joke often heard in this part of the world is, teenagers read only one non-academic book & that is ...‘Facebook’! J) The Gen-Next of India (as well as from the most part of the world) might be knowing the center-forward of Man-U club but will fail to give even two names of books they read last year! 

And today when the boundaries of the world are rapidly shrinking and when the outsourcing shifted focus from ‘why’ to ‘how much’, the flat world’s economy necessitates its knowledge workers to be much smarter & well-read than ever before! When many projects are getting executed from offshore (even without a single Onsite visit of 90% of the team), the client knows an offshore team-member  and forms an impression only from what s/he is talking and from the way s/he is writing, expressing in  conf. calls, email exchange. So, communication has attained the crucial importance, from ‘nice-to-have’ to ‘must-have’ kind of soft skill.  But unlike the technical skills, some of which can be mastered in a couple of weeks (of course if sustained efforts are put in), communication skills is a different ball game.

Enhancement of communication skills is a very slow process & the desired results are obtained only after years of consistent efforts put in the right direction.  Reading right kind of books will expedite that process.  Most of the management books offer a deep insight on management, changing paradigms, latest in management/technical/social trends (say, how many of you know “SMAC”?), provide  real-life examples / case-studies / testimonials on successes (and excesses & failures).

Here are some of the books I read & found them to be extremely interesting –

1.       The 7 habits of highly effective people – Stephen Covey
2.       The world is flat – Thomas L. Friedman
3.       Lateral thinking – Edward De Bono
4.       Fish – Stephen Ludin
5.       How to win friends and influence people – Dale Carnegie
6.       The tipping point – Malcolm Gladwell
7.       Straight from the guts – Jack Welch
8.       Tough times never last but tough people do – Robert Schuler
9.       In search of excellence – Tom Peters
10.   I'm OK, You're OK - Thomas A Harris
11.   Harvard Business Review on Leadership
12.   It happened in India – Kishore Biyani
13.   Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish – Rashmi Bansal
14.   Connecting the dots – Rashmi Bansal
15.   The monk who sold his Ferrari – Robin Sharma
16.   The leader who had no title – Robin Sharma
17.   The wings of fire – APJ Kalam

The above list is only a partial list taken from an ocean of books, the best-sellers getting published every year, almost every day! Nevertheless, there is no need to rush through all these books mentioned. Even if a couple of books are read every quarter (and no matter in which form, hard-copy / Tab / Kindle), a sound beginning is surely made.  You may also want to choose one of the self-help books you liked most.. to follow it. Also, like the ‘ice bucket challenge’, share the list of good book you read & challenge your friend/co-worker to share his/her read.

If one augments the habit of reading above kind of books by watching right kind of TV programs (like the panel-discussions on NDTV, CNBC, CNN, BBC et al) and or watch You Tube podcasts (like TED Talk) , the mind is sure going to get enriched & so will be the communication and the thought-process! Slowly but surely, the transformation would be happening toward becoming a better professional,.. a better leader!

Happy reading!! ..And Happy Leading!!!

 *Disclosure – I don’t have any holdings in Crossword/Landmark/Walden Book stores/any publisher of any of the books mentioned above J  (..And how I wish J J


  1. Very well said Prashant!!
    Vijay Pankhawala

  2. NIce article Prashant,

    I do feel that reading is critical for development of a person to what he/she is. So it is important that we try and see how a specific thought process expressed in a book applies to oneself and our own surrounding. If we fail to connect these two things then we loose interest in reading. So may be in next article you may want to dwell upon this thought

  3. Thanks Vijay! Yes, what you said is absolutely correct..