Readers are leaders.
Readers are not leaders if they fail to communicate their insights to the world. This they can do through writing and speaking. The pages preserve and propagate what is written but the masses find it easier to heed the audible voice than the pen. Why?
Speaking has the power of immediacy, the here and now, engaging the listeners in real-time, and helping the speaker to constantly fine-tune the communication based on live feedback from the audience.
Hearers and listeners can recall elements of what the speaker says because the communication is given power by the sight-sound-smell-touch-and imagination of the whole experience.
I began to think about this some time ago when I attempted1 to read Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. It was near the end of his foreword: “I know that men are more rarely won over by the written word than they are by the spoken word and that every great movement in this world owes its growth to great speakers, not to great writers. Still, writing is necessary to create a unified doctrine we can distribute. I must lay down its principles for all time.” Okay, that challenged me as writing-person.
Leaders are speakers.
The written word, I hear, is a reduction of the spoken word. Read, yes and write, and with all thy writing speak out. loud. in public. as much as you can. People follow the ones who speak out loud in public. There is a likely excuse for those of us who enjoy the quiet.
You do not desire ‘followership’ of any kind? Good. But what you say may save a life, a marriage, a career, a relationship.
“Empty barrels make the most noise.” If you find this a crutch for your complacency, know that the noise will be all the crowd listens to all day, all year. Individuals can hear the still small voice only in their quiet, when they are alone. In the crowd, it is the loud voice of the John-the-Baptist, or of the Jesus-on-the-Mount the wind bears down to the masses.
But surely we must make a case for reading.
I found a useful argument on Christopher Smith’s blog:
“…Reading is only helpful insofar as it guides us deeper into conversation, in our churches and neighbourhoods.”
Reading what has been written should lead to richer, deeper speaking, and conversation [conversation = speaking + listening] experiences in our relationships everywhere. The reader is equipped to hold better conversations with his family, friends, co-labourers, and fellow citizens, and leaders every day.
Reading should nurture thinking, writing, speaking, and on to leading. The leader is one who reads and ultimately speaks.
1 December 2020 Update: I would like to say I read the book but I didn’t read much beyond that foreword. Is it a useful book to read?