One Critical Leadership Error

Assuming what you’re hearing is all that’s being said.

In one of my first management positions, I supervised about 50 people in several departments of a large retail store. A primary part of the job was creating a work schedule. I was new to the areas and didn’t know many people so I relied on a few I did know to help me determine who should work when.

My intent was always to be fair with the hours. I was young and probably naive to how critical a role this was. Essentially I was the person deciding how many hours and therefore how much pay a person earned. I was salaried. They were hourly.

In the beginning, things seemed wonderful. Everyone was nice to me. Over the course of a few months, I started to pick up some subtle and sometimes not too subtle remarks about the work schedule. As I began to ask questions, I found there was a large portion of employees who felt I was favoring certain people over others. That was never my intent, but I realized I was relying on the input of a small, closely associated group of people who didn’t necessarily speak for the majority.

Everyone I was hearing from was not everyone who was talking.

It taught me a valuable lesson. This is a critical error many leaders make. The best leaders I know find ways to hear what is really on the minds of the people. The goal is not to please people, but to be aware of the true feelings of people, which impacts the contentment level of the people, which ultimately impacts the health of the organization.

Leader, are you listening to what’s being said or only what you are hearing?

You may want to read:

5 Traits of the Aware Leader


10 Symptoms of the Unaware Leader

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8 thoughts on “One Critical Leadership Error

  1. Grazie per il vostro articolo, mi sembra molto utile, provero’ senz’altro a sperimentare quanto avete indicato… c’e’ solo una cosa di cui vorrei parlare piu’ approfonditamente, ho scritto una mail al vostro indirizzo al riguardo.

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  3. Ron! I think that leadership is all about connecting with people. Many successful leaders I have met in my life are those who know the pulse of their team. They get to their team on a personal level. They are hardly receive surprises from their people.

  4. I was a member of a church where the senior leadership was continually surprised by the reaction of the congregation to their decisions. They obviously had very strong filters because they kept getting surprised time after time, watched the congregation shrink–and never changed their approach to decision-making.