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Is There Anybody Listening?

Ok, so I chose the title from an old 80’s hair band song, but it works! Name that band if you wish.

Regardless, it is a valid question. I am constantly amazed by stories of vice presidents, CEO’s, managers, department heads, etc… who are basically tyrants and dictators rather than leaders because they refuse to listen to others. Seriously, if you are going to be a leader and have a management team or executive team to whom you refuse to listen then why have them? Wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper to skip the interviews, disregard work experience and educational experience and just hire a group of people you can pay the lowest possible salary, so they can just run around and do your bidding? For some CEO’s, that is exactly what they should do. It would save a lot of time and energy and stop wasting very talented people on “leaders” who refuse to truly listen to them.

“You have to be willing sometimes to listen to some remarkable bad opinions. Because if you say to someone, ‘That’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard; get on out of here!’—then you’ll never get anything out of that person again, and you might as well have a puppet on a string or a robot.”
— John Bryan

Take a friend of mine’s company. It is a very prominent company in the travel industry. They got a new CEO about one year ago and he came in with the attitude that he knew how to do everything better than everyone else and he was smarter and had more experience than everyone else on his executive team. He is obstinate and leads with his ego. That is a very, very dangerous combination because it means he will not entertain the ideas of those around him. He has some very accomplished and smart people on his team, yet he refuses to listen to their ideas, suggestions, concerns, and issues. He simply wants puppets on strings. He is very close to losing some very gifted people and he doesn’t even realize it because his ego won’t let him. It is sad, but it will be a huge coup for other companies who can gain from these very talented people.

So, what is the big deal about listening? If you don’t listen you can never learn, which means you cannot lead. Leaders who listen to those around them are well informed about decisions they need to make. They can and should rely heavily on their peers and subordinates, as they are most likely very well educated and/or experts in their field. Sometimes the best ideas come from the most unlikely sources, but you have to listen first.

“We should never pretend to know what we don’t know, we should not feel ashamed to ask and learn from people below, and we should listen carefully to the views of the cadres at the lowest levels. Be a pupil before you become a teacher; learn from the cadres at the lower levels before you issue orders.”
— Mao Tse-tung

So, leaders please put down your ego, step away slowly and listen. Listen to your management team, executive team, or whomever else you can in your organization and truly hear what they are saying. Contrary to what you think, you do not have all the answers. If you are not willing or able to do that then you are wasting their time and talent and you are certainly not being an effective leader.

Find more fabulous quotes on listening at

><(("> Julie Silbar

Julie is a ><((“> Friend of Catch Your Limit, a management and marketing firm with offices in Tallahassee, Florida and Richmond, Virginia. To contact Julie email her at or to learn more about Catch Your Limit, visit

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