Two Simple Truths for Effective Leadership

People sometimes have a strange idea about what it means to be a leader, regardless of their field. Some merely “pose” as leaders because they are unsure how to lead effectively. Others may consider themselves to be naturally good leaders simply by virtue of their title or position, such as mother, store manager or lieutenant. To compound the problem, these people usually assume that everyone else also believes them to be good leaders merely because of their rank or title. The result can be insensitivity and a lack of consideration for those being supervised. Such an attitude can be death for any constructive leadership attempt. Following are two characteristics of a good leader or manager that illustrate this theory:

First, consider the act of listening. God gave us two ears and one mouth.  This ratio of personal communication instruments should give us a clue about the proportion of time that each should be used!  The hallmark of a good leader is the ability to listen to others, no matter what they want to say. It’s amazing how often this simple truth still mystifies leaders who think that their position means they should talk first and ask questions later, if ever. Many leaders forget how to be humble and recognize that they don’t know everything.  In reality, they often have a great deal to learn about those they supervise as well as the job those people are doing. For some reason, they confuse their job title with some sort of overall expertise, which makes them overbearing and foolish in the eyes of their subordinates.

A second point concerns respect.  I personally think it is a very important point to remember. Specifically, managers should treat those closest to them as though they were strangers.  Let me explain that statement. Because we have people in our lives with whom we become very familiar, either at the workplace or at home, it is very easy to slip into a rather casual attitude toward these people who know us best. The result is sometimes an outward appearance of a lack of respect or love, expressed by how we speak or behave. When we are upset, busy or unhappy, it is very easy for us to snap at those closest to us. We may shout or become nasty or insulting simply because someone is nearby. However, if the telephone rings with a stranger on the line, we can immediately switch to a sweet, kind and considerate persona. Why?  Because we would never insult a stranger with our surly attitude. This just doesn’t make sense. Why should you abuse your colleague, close friend, or child just because that person is nearby when a bad mood strikes?  The answer is: You shouldn’t. Don’t beat up people emotionally just because you know they’re familiar with your mood swings.

Remember, the people you are closest to, at work and at home, deserve to be listened to and respected. Do you lead this way? Does your boss?

3 thoughts on “Two Simple Truths for Effective Leadership

  1. Look simple common sense but great truths which need to be followed by every leader. Unfortunately these are not followed by many leaders – those who follow them are respected as great leaders by their followers. The ratio about ears and mouth most of them are reversed. Many leaders feel that their job is to talk and that of the followers is to listen and act on them. They do follow but their hearts are not in it. I shared in one of the learning even for senior managers from a manufacturing company in India that they need to engage the brain and heart of their followers – not just their hands and legs. By ‘listening’ we engage their brain and by ‘respecting’ we engage their heart ! How simple and true !and we can achieve significant results with whole-person involvement.

  2. Thanks a lot .Once in a while your articles let us think deeply and remind us a lot of forgotten things.” Treat others as you like to be treated”.” Walk your talk”.God help you to be the best.

  3. Ken – I love the simplicity and directness of your comments. The respect point is one that hit me personally. I wonder about a method for dealing with that – what if we simply explained the emotion we were feeling before expressing ourself. Here is an example – I come home after a long work day and two of my sweet children are having an argument and ask for my intervention. As I read this blog – one quick response would be to let both of them know that they needed to deal with things and I am sick of their fighting. What if I simply shared with them what I was feeling at that moment and what I needed. Something like “It has been a long day and I am tired and irritable right now – so you don’t want my help at this moment. Give me 10 minutes to change and relax – then lets talk. In the meantime try not to hurt each other (laugh . . . . . ) – and if you can solve things on your own . . . We can celebrate in 10 minutes.”

    Nice insights Ken.

Comments are closed.