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Leaders Listen

“Listen to me, the loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room”- Frank Lucas, American Gangster

The art of listening seems to have diminished in our political culture lately. Everybody trying to shout over everyone else to make their point. The nation's capital and the talk shows are the most egregious offenders of all. Well, it’s not working. While everyone is shouting, very few are listening. They are talking through people and not to them. It is difficult to watch. A confident, effective leader takes time to listen to as many points of view as possible. And then makes their decision based on that information and those points of view.

I’ve taken the opportunity to read many of the leadership blogs on Two Blue Aces and a key element in many are talking about the leader and the art of listening. These leaders value the art of listening. Listening to subordinates, experts, superior officers, etc so that when they make a decision, it will be the most informed decision they can make. Decision making should be a collaborative effort with input enabling the decision maker the best opportunity to make the best decision.

When I first got elected to the Polk County Commission in 2010, one of my fears was determining if I had the patience to listen to so many opinions on so many issues. I worked hard to become a good listener. And surprisingly I did become one. At Commission meetings and committee meetings, some folks like to be the first to be heard in order to set the agenda and the conversation. I liked to be one of the final, if not the final voice to be heard to make sure I had as much input as I could receive. I also realized from my past life’s experiences in leadership, that if you listen, you become a stronger, more effective leader. And that has been my goal.

In my political career and my real estate career, I had no shortage of people wanting to tell me what they thought. Often, I had to bite my tongue wanting to interrupt, but I continued to listen. And usually, I learned something I did not know and that helped form my opinion on many issues and positions. In my opinion, this leads to better decisions.

As a great philosopher said many years ago, “we have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say.” ― Zeno of Citium, as quoted by Diogenes Laërtius



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