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When was the last time you sat down with a book? Read the newspaper? Took the time to read an in-depth article on the internet? If you can’t remember when, you’re doing yourself — and your business — a disservice. Whether it’s reading business insights, personal growth, pop fiction or classic literature, reading can make you a better leader in your business. Here’s how.

Reading Increases Your Intelligence.

Of course, you gain knowledge when you read. But reading goes way beyond that knowledge growth. It’s been shown that reading can increase people’s intelligence levels and analytical capabilities. When you read, you have to evaluate and analyze different situations. Regularly exercising your analytical muscles through reading can extend to your business, making you better at thinking through and evaluating situations, and coming up with creative solutions.

Reading Raises Your EQ.

By now, everyone knows the importance of Emotional Quotient, or EQ, in business leadership. When you can better understand, relate and empathize with your employees, you can better motivate and relate to them. Reading puts you into other people’s shoes and exposes you to their thoughts and feelings. All of the empathizing you do while reading extends to real life, making you better able to empathize with those around you and address their emotions.

Reading Challenges Your Thinking.

It’s a danger in business to always approach issues the same way, with the same assumptions. Reading can challenge your beliefs and notions. A renewed perspective can help you change and improve the way you approach your business, your employees and your goals.

Reading can Provide a Powerful Reminder.

Ever read something that you thought was groundbreaking? That you thought would change your approach to achieving your business goals? How quickly did you forget it? While reading new materials is great for recharging your brain and challenging your thinking, rereading books or articles that have inspired you also can be valuable. By taking the time to reread material that’s inspired you, you gain a powerful reminder of the philosophies and approaches that could change your leadership style and your business.

Reading Provides Relaxation.

Running a business is hard work. It comes with a lot of stress. Reading can help you to relax! Taking the time to unwind with a book or magazine can help to alleviate your stress. And leaders who are in control of their stress are better able to approach their business and guide and support their employees.

The moral of the story is simple: Take the time to read! It might feel like an indulgence, but reading provides powerful benefits that help you to grow your leadership skills and your business. Whether you pick up a new title someone told you about, peruse the internet for interesting articles or information or read business or industry periodicals, making a habit of reading can help you to become a better leader.