Have you ever ridden in a taxi? If you have, you know the drill. Once you’re lucky enough to flag down a cab, you climb in and the driver asks, “Where to?”
Pretty simple question, right? What would happen if your reply to the driver was, “I’m not sure.” I don’t know how the driver would react, but I can be sure you wouldn’t go anywhere. You’ve got to have a destination in mind when you begin a journey.
Harry Truman said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” I would propose a variation of that principle. Not all listeners are leaders, but all leaders are listeners.
One of the most critical requirements for solid organizational leadership is the ability to keep your finger on the pulse of your organization. The best way to do this is to simply become a listener. There is a big difference between a hearer and a listener. Most employees would not argue whether or not their leaders hear them, but an overwhelming majority would assert that their leaders rarely listen to them – I mean really listen. Hearing indicates the acknowledgment of a sound. Listening is the result of true focus.