Managers have stopped reading! I can hear your response, "Barry, I am reading email and reports all day long!" That's not what I'm talking about. As a leader, you have to have vision beyond the horizon. You can't arrive at market or production issues at the same time as your team. So, how do you do that?
First, make sure you have access to the most reliable writing that is being produced about your customers and/or market. It may come from an association source or business data, but you should be following the blogs or reporting what is being done by those who are obsessed with your customers.
Second, there should be at least one book on your desk that is about how to improve your personal skills. There are hundreds to choose from. This summer I am recommending Laura Stack's book, Execution is the Strategy - How to Get Maximum Results in Minimum Time.
Your competition is getting better. You cannot afford to grow complacent.
Third, you should be reading something for fun. That's right - fun. When our mind is relaxed and in escape mode we are at the height of our creativity. You find yourself thinking about something in a different way. In fact, you will find yourself saying, "This thought just popped into my mind!" No, you released it by relaxing your mind.
Reading is the fuel for successful managers. It's time to fill up!