You’ll never succeed until people listen to you.
Leadership is challenging because most people aren’t good listeners; leadership requires listeners. Ernest Hemingway said, “Most people never listen.” If they never listen, they can never be led. Watch children playing and you’ll see that listening is rare while telling is common.
A “good” excuse not to listen relieves responsibility — or at least it feels that way — and authorizes push-back. I don’t listen if:
1. You don’t listen to me.
2. You don’t understand me.
3. You don’t understand my challenges and opportunities.
4. You stay aloof. You aren’t willing to get skin in the game.
5. You don’t want what’s best for me.
6. You suggest stupid ideas.
Gaining an Audience
The reasons we don’t listen well reveal paths to earning the right to be heard. Leaders flip excuses into motivations. For example, the positive of number two is, people listen when they feel understood.
Never try leading until you have listeners. If you’re asking, “Why aren’t people listening?” you aren’t leading. All leaders always need listeners.
Tough questions earn more listeners than tough statements do. Ask about things others don’t dare.
How can leaders earn the right to be heard?