2019 Harding Read focuses on leadership

June 28, 2019 | Harding Read |

President Bruce McLarty selected ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey as the 2019-20 Harding Read. With the fourth campus-wide read, McLarty wanted to do something different, reaching outside the pattern of biographies to a topic he felt was already being discussed on campus — leadership.

“The Harding Read has been an adventure every year,” McLarty said. “For me it was taking a read of the campus, what is it that’s being talked about, what are the things that I hear, and what things would I like to introduce to this campus. I think that has been the thing now for the Harding Read. It is a connection with where we are, what is going on and the context we live in — beginning there and where we want to go with that.”

After focusing on the lives of William Wilberforce and Corrie ten Boom through their biographies and the life of C.S. Lewis through his own writings, McLarty knew he wanted the next Harding Read to come from a different field of literature, and he wanted it to be about leadership.

“I believe that all Harding students are, by nature, leaders,” McLarty said. “I think almost all of our people are going to step into leadership roles, even if they don’t think of themselves as a leader right now and they think, ‘I wanted to be somebody behind the scenes.’ I think by being a part of a campus where this is the campus read and we are talking about it all year long, a lot of leaders and a lot of people who don’t yet perceive themselves as leaders will be thinking consciously about how these things make you a better leader.”

After beginning his search with this book, published in 1989, McLarty read a number of other more recent leadership books, but he always came back to this one.

“This book, ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,’ is the single most influential, non-Biblical leadership book in my life,” McLarty said. “I’m convinced there is so much of the language of leadership we use today that came from this book, even if people don’t know where the language came from. I’m thrilled that a new generation is going to discover ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.’”

The principles laid out by Covey not only have helped McLarty grow as a leader since he first read the book in 1989, but he said it speaks, even as a secular book, to Christian principles.

“I think, for believers, we read this, and every habit is rooted in Scripture,” McLarty said. “Every page is something where you are reminded of something Jesus said or that Paul wrote or that is in Proverbs, because this is solid wisdom about leadership in life. I think these things make you a better person, but I think they are all things that make you a stronger leader.”

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