Maybe you’ve heard the saying “leaders are readers.” But, are they really?

I think reading is a critical part of a leader’s job, and yet very few leaders “read by example.”

Imagine for a moment a manager staring into an office space full of busy sales reps working away on their computers. At least that’s what she thinks. They are, in actuality, reading their LinkedIn feed or catching up on a few news articles.

Imagine for a moment how you would respond if you look at the same group of people, but this time each of them were reading a timeless business or leadership book.

How would you respond then?

Most leaders would snap, most leaders would get mad, most leaders would tell them to get back to “work.

I will argue they are already working. You see, reading is a non-negotiable for me and my teams. Reading at work is not only encouraged, but it’s expected. Most of the sales strategies and management ideas that have worked for me came from a book. In fact, I keep some of the most helpful books in my office, accessible when I need some help. They serve as a coach, a mentor, a great source of creativity and ideas.

As a manager & a professional our job is to make sure we have an answer to the problems that arise in our work. The source of those answers is largely up to us. We can wrack our brains and waste time struggling to create the right solution. Or, we can find the answer in a book or an industry publication, saving us and the company time and money.

Encourage your team to read, even at work, on the company’s dime. When you have a team of readers, your job as a leader gets easier. Instead of being the source of solutions for your team, now your teammates will bring new ideas and solutions to you. They will share with you and others what they are learning and applying to their work.

Set the example for your team. Be the leader for them to follow. Be caught reading in the office. In fact, take notes, share with them what you are reading and learning. Encourage them to do the same. If you aren’t already a big reader, if you don’t look to leadership, business, and sales books to solve problems and improve your performance, then you need to.

If you need more books to dig into, or you’re looking for a place to start, here are 50 of my favorite business and leadership books. It’s not a comprehensive list, and it changes from time to time, but each of them in some way have made me a better leader and a better manager.  Take a look and see if you find something that catches your eye.