Skip to main content

Through my leadership coaching of CEO’s, Marketing and Sales Leaders, I have learned that forgetting to listen in a business environment is a reoccurring theme for many professionals. Often times it seems that extremely smart people suffer from this ‘know-it-all’ attitude the most. To them, it may seem easier to answer the questions themselves than sit back and delegate the work to somebody else. However, this is not always the case. To be successful in a leadership position, it’s important to have the ability to listen and pass the work on to others. This will ultimately lead to more productivity in the work place.

I once worked with a client we will refer to as Bill. Bill was an extremely smart individual and it seemed was always ten steps ahead of a problem. He could combine a complex issue in his head and easily come up with a solution. But interestingly his extreme intelligence had become a liability in his leadership role. I quickly learned this in a coaching session with him when I provided him with some advice and he cut me off in the middle of my sentence and finished. After some further investigation I learned this was what Bill was also doing with his marketing people. 

The effect of this know it all attitude that Bill maintained was unproductive meetings and a lack of creativity, because people were not given the chance to speak up. His employees became disengaged and demotivated due to not being heard or listened to. The morale in Bill’s company was low because people ultimately felt that it wasn’t worth their time to bring their ideas to Bill.

After about 6 months of coaching with me I helped Bill realize that even if he was the smartest guy, he didn’t have to constantly demonstrate this to his team. Over time Bill learned that listening and showing empathy to people paid off. The marketing meetings in this company immediately improved as Bill allowed people to participate and finish their thoughts. The team became more innovative, creative, and effective. People felt much more motivated and engaged because they were being heard.

Bill’s behavior and experience with his team can teach us all that sometimes you have to slow down and listen instead of trying to do it all yourself. Sometimes, doing less can mean getting more in your leadership role.