Leadership’s lost art
When talking about keynote speaking, Itay Talgam, the revered conductor, said “But I would recommend the opposite. I would recommend keynote listening instead of keynote speaking.” These words stopped me in my tracks. If you are a Leader they should stop you in your tracks too.
The best leaders that I have worked with have been a little bit humble. That’s not to say they weren’t extremely capable, they were! They were brilliant at building a talented and experienced team about them, people who were on the same mission to succeed. But once they had that talent in place……they listened to their wisdom, their expertise, and their opinions.
I love the work of Carole Dweck. She talks about the difference between a Fixed and a Growth Mindset. She began using this model with children but soon realised it works in business too. There’s a link to her website below and she has a brilliant book out which I highly recommend.
The model suggests that a Leader with a fixed mindset has a desire to look smart and a tendency to ignore useful feedback, probably because it will make him/her look silly. I’ve met a few of these – they are not very good listeners and they already have made up their minds about how their team will tackle the issue in hand. Hmmm.
Fortunately, I have met a few with a Growth mindset too. “Right, let’s get together and talk this through then, work out a plan. Come with some ideas please. I want everyone to have input,” was the battle cry of one of my favourite CEO’s along with little gems like “so what does HR think about our marketing issue.” Suffice to say we were one hell of a successful team. He just had a knack of untapping potential but it all came from an uncanny love of really, actually listening to what you had to say. He wasn’t perfect and occasionally we would get an “I hear what you’re saying, but…” generally when he thought it was going to be too expensive! In the main though, we felt heard, trusted and valued, and our ideas and opinions were actioned. He was mature enough to realise that if he listened to the talent he had so carefully recruited that he would find the answers. His career (and his Growth Mindset) has gone from strength to strength.
Here at the Change Directors we build the Art of Listening into our Team Leader Technical Training. We call the programme Success Stories and in one session, I share this story of my CEO and how he got the best out of us by listening.
I also use this lovely quote from Larry King “I remind myself every morning; Nothing I say this day will teach me anything, so if I am going to learn I must do it by listening”. Nice one Larry!