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Monday, April 02, 2012

Leaders listen.

Often when we think of leaders, we think of pictures of grandeur.

Standing atop a stage challenging a room full of eager participants.
Sitting in a conference room going through a motivational powerpoint to galvanize the foot soldiers.
Walking into a room and having people wait in line to talk to them.

But here's the thing you need to understand about that one picture.

Most of the time, the people talking to the guy up front who just got done with his speech, or talk, or sermon is not hearing encouraging responses from the talk, sharing pearls of wisdom on topic or signing autographs.  No.

He or she is listening to people.  Listening.

People may come up thinking they want to talk to you, but most of the time, they want to just talk.  You spend the better of your time standing there listening.  Listening to their story (most of the time unrelated to the talking point of your message).  Listening to their random thoughts.  Watching them get all nerved up with blotches on their neck sharing something they've never told anyone before.

But those are the easy ones.  The ones that are really hard are the people who just want attention and you're the only one that will listen to them.  You are the easy target because you don't have a get away car so to speak.  You are cornered.  And this is part of a being a leader.  I would go so far as to say this is a good majority of what a leaders spend their time doing.  Listening.  To all kinds of stories and opinions and ideas.  Sometimes they are borderline hallucinations they are so goofy.  But you sit in the moment with them, nod your head, and listen.  As intently as you can.  As genuinely as you can.  As fearfully human as you can.

So if you don't want to listen, you don't want to be a leader.

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