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Phil’s Picks for April: on listening leaders

Note: We don’t do ‘native advertising’ or advertising disguised as opinion that links you to people we have a financial relationship with. I think that’s a despicable betrayal of trust. My recommendations, below, are simply that; my recommendations.

This month I was struck by the continuing urgent need for leaders to stop talking and learn to listen:

The secret to exceptional leadership

On an unlikely source, the Pub Landlord Advisor (!)  website, I stumbled across a nicely written article that’s like a basic primer on leadership. This jumped out at me from it:

What makes a leader exceptional

Over fifteen years, leadership consultant Lee Ellis quizzed hundreds of leaders and managers. He asked them to identity the one key attribute of their greatest leader that made them exceptional.

Guess what the most popular answer was?

They listened to me.”

Introverts and listening

Introverted leaders tend to be great listeners, particularly in one to one situations. It’s the extroverts who really have to learn that talking is only 50% of leadership communication, that listening is the other 50%. And it’s the neglected 50%.

So, I was drawn again this month to Susan Cain’s Quiet Leadership Institute, to see what they’re talking about there, and was rewarded with an interview with the author of a book I’ve just bought and haven’t had time to start reading yet, Charles Duhigg, author of Smarter, Faster, Better. 

I was delighted to see him say this in the interview:


“We know some of the best leaders act the way they want those around them to act, which can easily mean not being assertive, not being over the top—but instead being a calming, listening influence because other people will take that cue and they’ll learn from it.”

The rest of the interview is here: Productivity and the Power of Trust 

Which reminded me of this wonderful TED Talk on the over-riding need for leaders to learn to shut up and listen, so I went over to have another watch and listen to that:

A leadership lesson from hippos

A 1 minute story from Ernesto Sirolli on a leadership lesson we must learn again and again: shut up and listen.

“I decided when I was 27 years old to only respond to people.

So what you do… You shut up. You never arrive in a local community with any ideas and you sit with the local people… You become friends. You find out what that person wants to do.

Passion is the most important thing. If you gave that person an idea, and they don’t want to do it, what are you going to do?

The passion that a person has for their own personal growth is the most important thing. We help them to go and find the knowledge. Because nobody in the world can succeed alone.”

Leaders need to shut up and listen

Hope there’s something useful in the above to help you develop your (probably) neglected listening skills as a leader.


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