Leadership: the importance of listening

Perhaps you knew this all along, I just recently discovered this: LISTEN and SILENT use the very same letters.

This did make me think of some managers in very senior positions I have come across over the years in companies I have worked with, which are incessant talkers. Some are just smart asses and like their own opinions being “heard” constantly, over-indulging in their own self-importance. Others are actually across-the-border-line narcisists, and cannot “hear” others for love of their own voice and opinion. The latter are more dangerous to companies.

I have had to learn this myself evidently, in fact when I was about 20 years old, I wrote down as one of my commandments “listen twice as much as you speak”. And I continue to try to apply it.

The bottom line is this, while you are talking, you are not listening.

There are so many advantages to listening:

  1. Your subordinates may well try to raise issues to you that you will need to know about. Understanding these issues will enable better and more balanced decisions on your part.
  2. Listening gives you a chance to check that you are making the right assumptions, a moment to confirm that your conclusions are valid.
  3. In my own career, I have learnt a great deal from my team members. Listening is a pre-requisite of learning.
  4. Listening builds trust in relationships, subordinates, peers and bosses alike. No teamwork truly works without it.
  5. Listening is step one in empowering others.
  6. Actually, it works in private relationships too.

Of course this also applies equally to partnering with customers, and it is a basic principle in our relationships with our clients.

Feel free to contact us with comments.