My doctoral research data showed that leaders who perform at higher levels than their average peers have a laser focus on learning and read voraciously. Traditional work-related sources that these outstanding leaders rely on to satiate their inquisitive natures tend to include the latest HBR, Forbes or WSJ articles. But instead of reaching for the latest business publication, what if they reached for Harry Potter instead?
Research shows that reading stories helps us understand, recognize and practice empathy. A 2011 study published in the Annual Review of Psychology showed that when people read about an experience, the same brain regions light up on an fMRI scan as if they were going through the experience in real life. So we are in fact, practicing empathy when we read fiction.
Empathy is also a key differentiator of outstanding leaders and coaches, as my doctoral research suggests. So next time you need to read something work-related, perhaps try fiction instead. You just might improve your EI capability!
My most recent non-work related reads include “Becoming” by Michelle Obama and James Patterson’s “The People vs. Alex Cross”. What was the last fiction book that you read? What did you learn that you could apply to your work? Comment below!