Earnest Hemingway once said, “When people talk, listen completely.” This must be one of the cornerstones to leadership. Leaders who listen to those they lead will grow strong, successful organizations and businesses. There is great power in encouraging and listening to multiple perspectives as a leader. Leadership that listens completely to what people on their team are saying, will create an environment of respect and stability. A team is only as good as their weakest member. A leader who closes their minds to others’ perspectives, thoughts, and concerns, and chooses to not listen completely runs the risk of being the weakest member.
The success of an organization or business can easily be determined by who leadership chooses to surround themselves with. Mark Ambrose once stated, “Show me your friends, and I’ll tell you your future.” Who we associate with and allow into our circle of influence will have a significant impact on our success. American entrepreneur and author, Jim Rohn, said, “You become like the five people you spend the most time with. Choose carefully.” Leaders must choose carefully who they spend time with, who they listen to, and who they are influenced by. Leaders must choose carefully who they surround themselves with. However, this is where I might become a little more unconventional.
I do not believe leaders should surround themselves with conformists. Another term for these people would be, “Yes Men.” If leadership is surrounded by individuals who constantly say, “Okay” or “Yes”, without questioning motives, purpose, and direction, then leadership is at risk of running the ship aground. Strong, effective leadership keeps an open mind, welcomes questions and concerns, and allows the freedom of all individuals to express opinions, ideas, and thoughts about motives, purpose, and direction. Any organization or business that closes the door to others’ thinking or perspectives, is an organization or business that will not last.
It is crucial that leadership listens and takes heed to multiple perspectives. I have personally found that a plan can be missing multiple details and considerations, and without allowing others to share their opinions and thoughts about the plan, the plan might not have been successful. Leadership should surround themselves with people who are willing to share their thoughts and ideas freely and openly. Leadership should also keep an open mind and listen intently to all perspectives.
Eric Sheninger, a school principal, said it well when he said, “Effective leaders rely on the expertise of others regardless of where they are in the organizational hierarchy.” Smart, effective leaders are ones who allow others to be smarter than them, listens to wisdom and council regardless of position or age, and actively listens to their team. Perspective is everything. And when we deny the opportunity for others to share their perspectives, we close our minds to opportunity, wisdom, and possibly success. Lead in a way that welcomes the perspectives of those you lead.