On “If You Want to Succeed in Business, Read More Novels”

Jeff Carroll, our Leadership Development Director, passed along an interesting article on Forbes.com about how reading fiction can facilitate the development of your soft skills.  You can check it out here (it’s very short, just a few paragraphs).

The author, Erika Andersen, discusses research on the connection between reading fiction and having high “emotional intelligence,” which Andersen defines as a person’s “accurate awareness of themselves and others, and their ability to create positive relationships with others based on managing their own reactions.”

Based on that definition, it makes sense that reading fiction and connecting and empathizing on some level with fictional characters can improve our emotional IQ.  As Andersen explains,

reading fiction improves your sensitivity to and appreciation of complex human situations; it provides a richer ‘toolkit’ of understanding from which to pull when making decisions and building relationships.  And as our business lives get more complex, faster-paced, less hierarchical, and more dependent upon our ability to build support with those around us – that kind of toolkit becomes ever more critical to our success.

I love to read, so this article really struck a chord with me.  Reading fiction is more than just a form of entertainment, and it’s exciting to see that there is scientific research demonstrating the benefits of this activity specifically in regards to business.  One of our faculty members, Dr. Meghann Cefaratti, and I chat regularly about books (Jane Austen and the Brontës, in particular), and I shared this article with her.  Here’s her reaction:

Very interesting that they talk about emotional intelligence because Mr. Chipman, the Grant Thornton CEO, pointed out that the soft skills are the hard skills to teach. Just one more reason why students take more than just accounting classes and why we thread leadership skill development throughout our accounting classes.

Overall, this article, along with Dr. Cefaratti’s comment, drives home the fact that not everything you need to be successful accounting professionals can be taught in an accounting class.  This is a hectic time in the semester, and many of you are busy with school and CPA preparation.  At this point, adding reading to the mix may seem impossible.  Still, if you find that you have some downtime this semester, consider spending some time on your EQ rather than your IQ by picking up that book that you’ve been wanting to read for a while.

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