New insight shows that reading has the potential to mold our thoughts, inspiring us to form new connections and shape creative ideas to overcome business obstacles. According to a recent study publishing in Brain Connectivity, it can change brain functions for up to five days. What we consume ends up determining how we think.

Perhaps we’re acutely aware of the level of content we consume through smart phones and other devices. A report by the University of California, San Diego suggested a daily consumption rate 100,000 words. With these facts in hand, leaders are encouraged to tailor their content streams to favor material that supports business goals.

The practice can be extended to your employees, whom benefit greatly from a corporate culture that supports reading. Take for instance Snapchat’s CEO’s recent move to buy every employee a copy of The Art of War – a move that prepares his staff for the ongoing buyout war between Snapchat and Facebook. Encouraging positive reading habits within your team can be the solution for increasing performance. Reading introduces the mind to another way of thinking. It keeps the brain active and pliable to address even the most challenging business issues.

So what should you be reading? Inc Magazine recently featured what they thought to be 2013’s best books for Entrepreneurs. The list includes Give and Take by Adam Grant, which argues a recipe for success that favors creating a collaborative and giving environment. The profile also features Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley, which tells us that creativity is a skill that can be learned, and which you can help your employees gain as well.

The importance of reading is exquisitely stressed by cult-fiction writer Neil Gaiman, who in encouraging a culture of readers, states that “words are more important than they ever were: we navigate the world with words, and as the world slips onto the web, we need to follow, to communicate and to comprehend what we are reading. People who cannot understand each other cannot exchange ideas, cannot communicate, and translation programs only go so far.” IN addition to being able to better exchange ideas, reading also sparks new ideas – a pivotal and defining trait for any leader.

A Forbes article by contributor Glenn Llopis, entitled “The Content You Read Shapes How You Lead,” adds to value founded in consuming content, arguing that it allows leaders to “more effectively relate to and associate with others too. When we read the same types of content, we trust and engage with others faster. This is why many leaders share books and articles with their teams and colleagues.” As Llopis phrases it, you transition from a leader (and a team) that’s all about “the-know-how” to “in-the-know”. The next step is raising that bar to creating what’s known.

Targeted content consumption also breeds a well-spoken and resourceful personality. Here, a leader finds it an easy transition into a writer – a role demanded by today’s high traffic content community. Strategically choosing your reading list is also a significant stepping stone for priming yourself as industry thought leader, a high-desired pinnacle in modern business. Ultimately the goal here is to become a thought leader, a final destination that reading jump starts. The moment we’re a thought leader, we’re better able to identify and seize opportunities. We’re able to chart the course of our own business narrative and set the benchmark higher than previously accepted. Once you’re here, reading doesn’t become something you fit in as part of your agenda; it becomes a part of who you are.