Listening Can Keep Problems from Escalating
A Cherokee proverb says, “Listen to the whispers and you won’t have to hear the screams.” Good leaders are attentive to small issues. They pay attention to their intuition. And they also pay close attention to what isn’t being said. That requires more than just good listening skills. It requires a good understanding of people, and it also means being secure enough to ask for honest communication from others and to not become defensive when receiving it. To be an effective leader, you need to let others tell you what you need to hear, not necessarily what you want to hear.
Gordon Bethune, former CEO of Continental Airlines, took this idea step further when he advised, “Make sure you only hire people who will be willing to kick the door open if you lose direction and close it. You may be able to ignore somebody’s opinion if you don’t like it, but if the person has the data to back it up, your intellect should be able to overwhelm your vanity.
A common fault that occurs in people as they gain more authority is impatience with those who work for them. Leaders like results. Unfortunately, that action orientation sometimes causes them to stop listening. But a deaf ear is the first symptom of a closed mind, and having a closed mind is a surefire way to hurt your leadership. Continue reading “Listening Problem-Solving”