To be a good leader, you need to listen twice as much as you talk. You can be full of grand ideas, but leadership isn’t just moving toward a bright future; it’s about bringing people along with you.
This principle is especially important when you’re new. People are more likely to get behind someone they trust, and if you’re new, that trust hasn’t yet been established. To put it plainly, the brilliance of your ideas matters very little to people who don’t trust you. Don’t discount trust. The early Greek democracy sentenced Plato to death because he asked to many questions and was considered a rabble-rouser—they didn’t trust him.
I’m not advocating a passive leadership that recedes into the background and lets whatever will happen happen. There is a time for leaders to step up and make the difficult decisions, hang the consequences. But an effective leader leader needs to first build the capital of trust before asking people to join him on a difficult endeavor.
And that happens when you listen to them.
People want to know that you care about what they think and that you’ve factored their ideas into your own. You may already know exactly what they’re concerned about, exactly what they’re going to complain about, exactly what they’re going to say before they even say it. But they need to know that you know it; they need to say the words directly to you. Even if people disagree with a decision you’ve made, they’re almost always going to be more amenable to it if you’ve listened to their side of things. And if what they’ve shared is in line with your vision, you’ve just gained a powerful ally and they now share ownership of the vision.
Consider a third and final outcome: you may just learn something from listening.
At the end of the day, you can arrive at the goal all by yourself, but that certainly doesn’t make you a good leader. There’s something far better than accomplishing great things: helping other people accomplish great things together.