Leaders talk.  A lot.

It’s not their fault.  We expect it of them.  They are on stage, they are at the head of the table, they are the ones in the know.  We expect to learn from them.

And, frankly, that’s a real problem.

You can’t talk and listen at the same time (even though my kids tell me otherwise).  So, if leaders are supposed to know All The Stuff, but then they are also supposed to be talking All The Time, how do leaders get so freakin’ smart in the first place?  Will your learning curve freeze the moment that you begin to lead?  And, if your role as a leader is to be confident about your opinion, how do you make sure that you are even right?

As important as it is for leaders to lead, it’s also vital that they listen as well.  In fact, great leaders listen more than they talk.  They know to make time to learn and to listen.  This empowers for them with confidence in their knowledge and in their opinions and becomes the engine that drives their consonant voice of leadership.

How do leaders become great listeners?  It’s simple.  Look around: are you the smartest person in the room?  If you are, you’ve chosen the wrong room and surrounded yourself with the wrong people.  If you’re not, congratulations, you are halfway there.  Now, simply sit back and listen to the brilliance all around you.  Ask probing questions.  Confirm your assumptions.  Challenge your opinions.  And, most importantly, practice gratitude for those who are courageous enough to muck around in the uncertainty of dialogue with you, the confident learning leader.