“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak, Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
— Sir Winston Churchill, British politician (1874 – 1965) at a conference in Washington DC
I received this quote and photo from a client recently and even though I’ve read this before, the accompanying photo was a visible reminder of this important leadership tenet. As a leader, there are times when it is important to speak up and be heard, but there are just as many situations when it is critical to stop talking and just listen. As a leader, your title or position will often cause others to view you as an elephant – big and powerful – and for that reason your subordinates will not always speak up, even when they have something important or significant to say. Which is exactly why it’s so essential that you consciously and deliberately sit back and listen; and create an environment where your employees know that you are willing to hear them out. That will sometimes require you to keep your own ego in check, to swallow hard and hold your own opinions back until others have had chance to share their points of view.
So is it difficult to “sit down and listen”? What do you do to gather up the courage to not speak? Do tell.