The Best Leaders are Readers

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By Benjamin G. M. Feril, MSC, USN

April 2012—Many of you are outstanding professionals in your field, so much so that you’ve applied yourself in achieving credentials through the CRA program. A significant milestone indeed (but there is a “however”). Now that you’ve successfully demonstrated leadership abilities in your organization, passed the CRA exam, and earned your credentials, you should be asking yourself “now what?”

One area where medical administrators should maintain an edge is continuing leadership education. Many of our colleagues are fortunate enough to attend seminars, conferences, or even webinars. These are great opportunities, but due to the current economic climate, organizations are rolling back funding to attend these events and seemingly leaving few options available for healthcare leaders.

There is another option: books! Hard copy, soft copy, or using your favorite electronic book device, there are a lot of books out in the market today covering a wide variety of leadership and management topics and interests. Let me suggest a few. Robert I. Sutton, PhD is the author of Good Boss, Bad Boss. He is a professor of management science and engineering at Stanford University and has written articles in leadership and management in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Business Week. In his book, Sutton describes what kind of bosses there are in the workplace, and he places particular emphasis on what the “best” bosses do. Another one of my favorite authors is John C. Maxwell who wrote The 360°Leader, Everyone Communicates Few Connect and The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. All of Maxwell books have been instant bestsellers and cover issues such as building better team work, enhancing leadership abilities among managers, and increasing interpersonal communications among colleagues and workers.

I’m certain that my suggestion will meet with some skepticism as many of us healthcare leaders and managers just don’t have time to read. I say to you: make the time! As leaders and managers, we’ve mastered the art of time management, and I recommend you carve out some time in your busy schedule to fit professional reading into your professional life. Remember, it’s not a sprint, but a marathon. If you set a goal of reading a book every two to three weeks, you may get discouraged because you can’t meet that goal. But if you focus on a book every month or month and a half then your efforts will pay off.

Speaking of the pay off, what are the rewards in a professional reading program? I believe they include maintaining currency in the latest topics of the day from leadership, management, business, economics, etc and it also helps keep your brain active. In addition to devoting time to juggling a multitude of leadership and management challenges, your brain gets a dose of intellectual stimuli that will keep your thinking sharp. Finally, the information you read from books will help you to further develop your creativity and imagination to keep you always thinking of new ways to work and grow with your peers and employees.

Capt. Benjamin G. M. Feril, MSC, USN is a member of the United States Navy currently serving in Bethesda, MD as Director for the Joint Medical Planners Course (JMPC) for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, J-4/Health Services Support Directorate. He is also the RACC’s Public Commissioner. He can be contacted at

One comment

  1. I couldn’t agree more; reading is the fuel that powers leaders. Some of my recent reads are: The Art of Appreciation by Rosamund & Benjamin Zander, Influencer by Kerry Patterson, and The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Gary Chapman & Paul White.

    For a quick “energy bar” of inspiration, I like ot view TED talks.

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