The stereotypical leader is the person out in front of the crowd, leading the charge. They are those in front of the group teaching. They are those on the stage speaking to the audience. They are the commandos making massive deals from big desks in corner offices. They are doers, speakers, and action-focused achievers.
But the fact is, you can do all these things and be a bad leader…if you are not also a leader who listens.
Some years back, there was a multi-billion dollar corporation. Its leader fit the stereotype above to a tee, but he failed in the one area that would have saved the company: he simply failed to listen.
He failed to listen when the Board advised him to reconsider a decision.
He failed to listen when his management team posed cautionary questions and offered alternative ideas.
He failed to listen to those with “boots on the ground” when they provided ideas for efficiencies and cost savings from a massive grass-roots level.
He failed to listen to the competition.
He failed to listen to economic advisers and industry experts.
And the company fell with a loud, reverberating thud that affected tens of thousands of employees, vendors, partners, and stakeholders.
All because a leader failed to listen.
Yes, listening is that serious.
Whether you lead a multi-billion dollar company or are an entrepreneur with a start-up business, you need to practice the art of listening. Form a solid advisory and support team and actively listen to advice from all levels. As a leader, listening to these different perspectives provides a panoramic and multi-dimensional view of the business and allows you to make wise decisions.
Frequently make it a practice to seek advice from these valuable resources.
- Your Board of Directors
- Your management team
- The implementers in your business
- Your competition
- Experienced experts – in business, economics, and your particular industry
And, here’s the secret. When they offer advice, stop talking, and LISTEN. Be a strong leader, make the big deals happen…but always remember to LISTEN.