I’ve noticed that great leaders don’t monopolize conversations. They guide and they shepherd. It may take the form of interrupting, but the main thing they do is influence and direct. Even on Shark Tank, the aggressive investors listen and they know what they are listening for.Great leaders are quiet when it is helpful. Click To Tweet
Conversely, they take control of a conversation if and when that is needed.
They are adaptable. They can seize control or sit back. The foolish stereotype of leaders as bullies is ridiculous. Just as foolish is the notion that a quiet leader is a doormat.
Here’s my point – the ability and willingness to sit back and listen is not driven by personality. It is a behavior that can be learned, strengthened and refined. The most verbal, animated, energetic person can learn to slow down, stop interrupting and listen.
While this is true, it is one of two important factors. What is the second?
Context is as powerful as our personal tendencies. It can overwhelm us, reduce our focus, talent, and drive us to a tiny pile of quivering uncertainty. It can also embolden us, push us to do what we would not do otherwise, and help us soar.
So, who is in charge of the context? Yes, you guessed it – leaders. Here’s how:
- Recognize and hold up as a model, talented people who deliver
- Swiftly remove people who get in the way of performance
- Make room for ideas, trials, innovation and experiments
- Ruthlessly remove people who are arrogant, naysayers, human speed bumps, professional “devil’s advocates”
- Listen with discernment
- Get rid of people who tell you their traits are to blame for their behavior
Listening is a behavior. What you learn by listening is the fuel for your business. Great leaders listen well and learn fast.
This takes confidence and decisiveness. It takes courageous leadership.