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  • President Cyril Ramaphosa is a big fan of reading – and it seems to have particular benefits for leaders.
  • The leaders of some of South Africa's biggest organisations told us what they are reading.

Executives who read can catalyse insight, innovation, empathy, and personal effectiveness, says Harvard Business Review's John Coleman.

"Reading has a host of benefits for those who wish to occupy positions of leadership and develop into more relaxed, empathetic, and well-rounded people," he says.

President Cyril Ramaphosa puts reading right up there with washing your hands after going to the toilet.

"If you want to be successful and excel in your life and what you do, find time to read. Make books your friends. Even when you go to the loo to do number two, take a book. And wash your hands after that," he said this week at the launch of the Youth Employment Service.

He used to read 40 books a year, Ramaphosa said. Now that he's running the country, that is down to 30.

Business Insider asked four of South Africa's top CEOs what they are reading:

Sasol CEO Bongani Nqwaba

The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success by William N. Thorndike Jr.

The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success by William N. Thorndike Jr.

An outstanding book about CEOs who excelled at capital allocation, according to Warren Buffett.

The Power of Positive Leadership: How and Why Positive Leaders Transform Teams and Organizations and Change the World by Jon Gordon

The Power of Positive Leadership: How and Why Positive Leaders Transform Teams and Organizations and Change the World by Jon Gordon

Jon Gordon shares what he has learned and provides a comprehensive framework on positive leadership filled with proven principles and practical ideas. 

The Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything by Stephen M.R. Covey

The Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything by Stephen M.R. Covey

The Speed of Trust offers a practical look at exactly how trust functions in our every transaction and relationship.


Absa CEO Maria Ramos

Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins by Garry Kasparov

Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins by Garry Kasparov

Kasparov uses his experience to look into the future of intelligent machines and puts a postive spin on what lies ahead. Far from artificial intelligence being a menace, Kasparov believes humanity should benefit from machines, rather than fear them. 


Goldman Sachs sub-Saharan Africa MD Colin Coleman

The President's Keepers: Those Keeping Zuma in Power and Out of Prison by Jacques Pauw

The President's Keepers: Those Keeping Zuma in Power and Out of Prison by Jacques Pauw

A South African bestseller that exposes the darkest secret at the heart of former President Jacob Zuma’s compromised administration.

The Knock on the Door: The Story of the Detainees' Parents Support Committee by Terry Shakinovsky & Sharon Cort

The Knock on the Door: The Story of the Detainees' Parents Support Committee by Terry Shakinovsky & Sharon Cort

The Knock on the Door tells the story of the Detainees’ Parents Support Committee (DPSC) during apartheid. The committee was set up by the parents, spouses and families of activists who were detained and had no recourse to legal intervention. It is an account of ordinary people coming together to stand up against racism and the abuse of power.


IQ Business CEO Adam Craker

Lore of Nutrition: Challenging conventional dietary beliefs by Tim Noakes & Marika Sboros

Lore of Nutrition: Challenging conventional dietary beliefs by Tim Noakes & Marika Sboros

Tim Noakes explains the science behind the low-carb, high-fat, or so-called banting diet in this book. 

"We don't read nor study enough about diet," Craker told Business Insider South Africa. "In order to be healthy and mentally fit, we need to put some more time into understanding what it is that we do to our bodies."

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