Story by Ian Phillips, Defense Media Activity
“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” – Harry S. Truman
If you are like me, you enjoy reading. I’ll read whatever I can get my hands on (though biographies, history and science fiction usually top my “favorites” list). Reading has always been a hobby since I was a kid. As I’ve gotten older, the thing I realized was that the more I read, the better prepared I was to be a positive contributor in both my military reserve and civilian careers. The military understands the importance of developing a habit of reading and has created lists to guide service members to great material.
Each year the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the chief of staff of each service issue their own professional reading list. Designed to encourage professional development and growth, the lists provide service members with titles on a variety of topics.
The lists include books that cover topics such as history, leadership, novels, biographies and a host of others that can broaden your knowledge base, encourage critical thinking and prepare you for future opportunities.
One book I found through a former Air Force chief of staff’s reading list is American Generalship: Character is Everything: The Art of Command by Edgar F. Puryear, Jr.. It analyzes some of the military’s most seasoned leaders (including Eisenhower, MacArthur and Patton) and looks at what qualities they had that made them such great commanders.
I found this particular book helpful because it showed me that several great military leaders all had certain traits in common, including the value they placed on reading. They found that being well-read helped their careers. So, I have taken their lead and tried to make reading a priority.
Professional reading can have a positive impact on your career. Whether you’re enlisted, an officer or a civilian, reading will help you become a more effective communicator and leader. I encourage you to check out this year’s lists and find a few books that are of interest to you.
Here are links to the lists: