Leaders, Listen!

A friend once told me that his mentor counseled him, “As the boss, the greatest t

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hing you can do for your people is to be accessible and listen to them.”

I could not agree more; however, I would add that you must not listen only to hear, but to understand. In the U.S. Army, there are many age-old traditions. One of thos

e traditions is that on Thanksgiving Day the leaders dress up in their service uniforms and serve their soldiers and families Thanksgiving dinner.

It’s an unwritten rule that after everyone is served the leaders mill around the room and ask their soldiers how they are doing. As the boss, I told my subordinate leaders that their soldiers knew when they were asked, “How are you doing?” whether the lead
er truly cared to know the answer to the question or not. “They know before you ask them if you really care,” I told them.

Some leaders do what they are expected to do, but they are not authentic. Truly caring means listening not only to hear, but to understand. So many leaders today simply can’t set the rest of the world aside and give their employee a few precious seconds of their time.

Have you ever entered your boss’s office to ask a question or solicit guidance, but they kept glancing at their computer screen as they spoke to you – distracted?  Have you ever been speaking to your boss and grew irritated because every time their iPhone “dinged” they glanced at the screen?

Sadly, I’ve experience these scenarios all too many times.

If you truly care. If you truly want the best your employees have to offer. If you want them to know that you genuinely care about them. Listen to them!

If you don’t really listen – you’ll never UNDERSTAND.

Mining Potential

You may be familiar with the success storypenny of America’s first industrialist, Andrew Carnegie. Early in the 20th Century, when millionaires were sparse in America, forty-three of them worked for Mr. Carnegie. A reporter once asked, “How have you managed to surround yourself with such intelligent, successful, and prosperous people?”

Carnegie replied, “They weren’t millionaires when they began working for me.”

The natural follow-up questions was, “Then how did you develop them, and make them successful?”

To which he replied, “Men are developed the same way gold is mined. Several tons of dirt must be moved to get an ounce of gold. But you don’t go into the mine looking for dirt,” he added. “You go in looking for gold.”

In order to maximize the potential of our people we must accurately identify those with gold at their core, and start digging.

Jimmy Blackmon is a retired U.S. Army Colonel and the author of PALE HORSE: Hunting Terrorists and Commanding Heroes with the 101st Airborne Division. Jimmy is a professional speaker, leadership coach, and the Co-Owner of Out Front Leadership. www.outfrontleadershipllc.com www.jimmyfblackmon.com

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