The Power of Reading Management Books
 

Sometime back while attending a management seminar I was chatting with a fellow manager from a different company. And the discussion gradually drifted to the area of books, especially management books. I asked the person what sort of books he normally reads and pop came his answer something like, ‘I don’t read any management books. Never had a need for them. They are all theoretical trash.’ And a few others around seemed to agree with him by giving their own versions like – ‘Who has the time due to heavy workloads, they are too costly, it does not work, they are written by theoretical people who don’t know the realities’ and so on. Their arguments reminded me of the classic story of a lumberjack working hard cutting some wood. A foreman who saw a lumberjack sweating asks why he doesn’t sharpen the saw to help speed up his work. The lumberjack answers ‘I can’t waste time sharpening my saw because I’m too busy chopping wood.’ His answer can be slightly modified to today’s managers who claim to read no books as, ‘I can’t waste my time reading management books because I am too busy doing management.

Today, there are countless such managers in countless organizations worldwide that don’t own or read a single book on management. And they will be trying very hard everyday to cover up their lack of management skills by resorting to endless experimentation often with disastrous results. However, there was a time long ago when management books were too theoretical as Jack Welsh once commented, ‘Insecure managers create complexity. Frightened, nervous managers use thick, convoluted planning books.’ But that warped thinking was applicable decades ago. Now the situation has changed drastically. Today excellent books are now available written by great people who have been there-done that, and not embarrassed to share their positive and negative experiences. Many such books are not impractical theoretical gibberish, and the knowledge in it cannot be simply brushed aside.

So it is up to you to seek that knowledge for your benefit. Some of the top advantages of reading management books are as follows.

1. They help you commit fewer mistakes due to ignorant experimentation. Managers who have the habit of reading management books, best practices, white papers, etc., have a distinct advantage over managers who claim to do management without this knowledge. For example, a young manager or employee who periodically reads good books can easily outshine a manager having several years of more experience without reading books.

2. You can’t be effective in your area of work continuously if you don’t sharpen your saw by improving your academic skills or knowledge in your area of work. And that can only be gained by reading books, no matter how may people you know. Today if anyone proudly claims they don’t read management books they are only fooling themselves. And they will also end up doing something worse. With their half baked knowledge about management and ignoring the advice from good books they will only do more harm than good. 

3. Books help you avoid re-inventing the wheel. You avoid committing the mistakes others have experienced. Worldwide people experience similar or identical problems related to managing people, business, customers, etc. So if someone else has experienced a set of troubles, solved them and made that knowledge available to others then you should greedily suck that advice to your advantage.

4. It is not necessarily the ones that sell millions of copies that contain great management advice. Every management book (even mediocre ones) has several good takeaways if you know what to read and what to skip.

5. You learn the Do’s and Don’ts faster irrespective of whether you get a chance to experience every tricky management situation. You can easily give better advice to others. The knowledge you gain by reading one good management book is equivalent to many years of practical experience contaminated with dozens and blunders and goof ups.

6. Reading books regularly can also help you de-stress easily and soon you will also gradually experience a stark difference in the way you think, act and behave. Many books have the power to change your life. Like tiny homeopathic medicines the gems of wisdom in every book can make you calmer, handle criticism, understand mankind better and become well equipped to tackle life's ups and downs.

7. Readers are leaders and many top performers read a book chapter or a new useful article every day. Reading good management and self help books is a quick way to gain many years of experience from a few hours of study. By learning some speed reading you can absorb large quantities of information in relatively small periods of time. The more you know, the less you need to fear. Knowledge is power. However, do not take everything said in the book as heavenly advice. Only take whatever useful ideas you need or can practice. Not all chapters are worth reading and even great popular books contain many mediocre and bland chapters. But each book will have at least one useful tool or a takeaway. So take what you need and which works for you and discard what doesn't help you.

And we can conclude this chapter with a few great quotes about books.

‘Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill.’ Barbara Tuchman

‘Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.’  - Francis Bacon


Article Author - Thejendra B.S

Web Cave - www.thejendra.com

Note: You may freely publish any of my articles intact on your website or newsletter as long as you include the signature box above.