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LeadershipWatch

Business leaders do not often take the time to read (e)books. Are they making a mistake? Why do great leaders read books?

“Each employee is required to read one recommended book per year.” Here is what Chinese business tycoon Wang Jianlin, who leads the Dalian Wanda Group, asks his entire staff to do (The ‘Read One Book Per Year’ requirement is part of the company’s official mission statement).

While the book lover in me does not believe that reading should be mandatory, Mr. Wang’s action made me reflect on the possible leadership advantages of cultivating reading habits. Can reading – and not just expert articles and business books but also novels, narrative history and well written biographies for instance – make people better leaders?

Scientific research and experience suggest it can. Here is how.

1. Reading literary fiction improves empathy

Empathy, or the ability to step into other…

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