All great leaders read.

And I’m not talking about skimming through the newspaper each morning over coffee. I’m talking about devouring knowledge!

Did you know that the average American only reads one book a year? Compare that with the fact that the average CEO reads four to five books a month.

Some of the most successful leaders throughout history were known to read one book every single day. Teddy Roosevelt was rumored to actually read two books a day. Abraham Lincoln only had one year of formal education, yet credited his appetite for reading with his success.

Here’s the bottom line: if you’re a leader and not an avid reader, you’re behind.

Studies show that active readers are likely to have annual incomes more than five times greater than those who spend little or no time reading.

Do I have your attention yet?

In order to be a great leader, you absolutely must be a great reader. Here’s why:

1. Reading is foundational for personal development.

I love this quote from Dr. Seuss, “The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you will go.”

Great leaders are like sponges when it comes to the acquisition of knowledge, the development of new skill sets, and the constant refinement of existing competencies. The best leaders I know are prolific readers.

Now, there are certainly numerous ways to learn: observation, experience, trainings, relational interactions, etc. But I am a huge fan of personal and professional development gained from good old-fashioned reading.

There is one simple reason why—it works!

2. Reading is the pathway to learning.

John Maxwell puts it this way, “I don’t know about you, but I’m still learning. Moreover, the day I stop reading, the day I stop learning, that’s the day I stop leading and likely the day I stop breathing.”

A leader who does not have a posture of learning is in decline. How can you expect to grow an organization if you’re not growing yourself?

When it comes to the topic of learning, I have observed that there are generally 3 types of people:

1) those who constantly seek to acquire knowledge,

2) those who think they already know it all, and

3) those who don’t care to know.

What distinguishes members of one group from the others rarely has anything to do with intellect, wealth, social pedigree, career standing, or other like pursuits.

It has everything to do with desire and passion for learning.

If you want to improve your station in life, as well as the lives around you, my recommendation is simple: read more!

The question is not if you should be reading, but rather what you should be reading.

Leaders are readers. It’s the one thing all great leaders have in common—and it’s not to late to join their ranks. Grab a book and get started today!