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Woman listening

Leadership is Listening

Leadership is Listening

When you think of leadership – do you think of some confident (arrogant) person swaggering around barking orders at everyone?  Perhaps you think of someone highly intelligent who has all the answers? Or a ‘Do what I say not what I do’ type authoritarian leader? Or maybe a great orator – like Martin Luther King?

None of those leadership styles are relevant in today’s world with the exception of Martin Luther King – we could always do with more of those!

Leadership Is All About Listening

The Most Important People to Listen to Are Your Team

When things go wrong, as they invariably do in business, it’s easy to react.  Something goes wrong and it needs fixing.  As the leader, you may go into problem solving mode, in order to sort things out before they get any worse.  And that’s completely natural and is often what needs to be done. 

Sometimes, however, it just makes things worse.  If you fly into problem-solving mode – or worse – shouting and blaming mode – before listening to what happened, then often you don’t solve the actual problem and just create a bigger mess.  At the very least you lose an opportunity to get your team involved in solving the problem.

Decision making needs to be based on listening. 

Julie Hutchison

And sometimes that’s hard because people may not want to tell you the truth for fear of reprisals.  Sometimes they think they are telling the truth – and they are – but it is only their version of the truth. 

There is a lot of listening involved in being a great leader.  And also, the ability to ask the right questions and then hear between the lines! 

Of course, you need to listen to your clients

I was talking to a client the other day, who was what I call a proper creative.  He had come up with some new products he was certain his clients would love.  They sounded interesting – though I am not his target audience.  But he was astonished that almost no one was buying. 

I asked him how many of his customers he had consulted before he went ahead and developed the products.  I think you might be able to guess that the answer was none.  If you don’t listen to your clients, what can you expect?

Critically, you also need to listen to yourself

When I say that – I don’t have an image of you walking around talking to yourself and then stopping and listening!!  What I mean is – listen to your gut instincts.  Listen to how you feel about something not what your head is telling you. 

When you ignore those instincts things can go very wrong.  Gut instinct is not some magical WooWoo thing – that some people have and some don’t.  Gut instinct is the sum of all your life and business experiences.  If you really analysed where your gut instinct about someone or something came from, you could find the answer. 

But your instincts will bring back an answer for you so quickly that you don’t understand where it came from.  It’s not always right – you might not like someone because they look like the school bully for example, and you could be missing out in that case.  But mostly, entrepreneurs and leaders have pretty good gut instincts. 

Listen to them and then decide.

If you are a react first, think later person – we have some strategies in the Leaders LaunchPad that can help. 

Happy to have a virtual coffee anytime!