Leading without listening is like walking in the dark. You need to know what your crew, customers, and suppliers think, so listen hard--and pounce on every good idea you hear. That said, it’s not as easy as you think.
A leader who hasn’t learned to listen is working under a huge handicap. It may be possible to lead without listening, Douglas MacArthur-style, but that approach is twice as hard, half as fast, and prone to disaster. Even as I rose through the ranks of the Navy, I found that listening didn’t always come naturally to me. Often, I merely pretended to hear people. How many times had I barely glanced up from my work when a sailor or officer came up to the bridge or into my cabin? I wasn’t paying attention; I was marking time until I could give orders. When I took command of Benfold, I was determined to do things differently--and I had to move fast. In two months, we would deploy to the Middle East, and we weren’t ready....
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