The Psychology of effective Leaders

penguin_leadershipA good listener describes someone with a receptive disposition. It suggests the person assimilates what is said and stores the information. This is how we learn exponentially. It is called active listening. No information is discarded but compared and integrated with current knowledge and past experiences.

A good listener naturally promotes interactive dialogue. They enjoy discussion and debate as this modus operandi adds to their reservoir of knowledge and interest. They are more focused on what is said rather than who says it. They respect opinion. Their reaction to an incredulous statement is not the evocative ‘that’s nonsense’ but rather ‘why do you say that?’

I have found this trait to be synonymous with successful executives whom I have coached and interviewed. Leadership demands the formulation of strategy and decision making which has a collegiate composition. The discussions which are the determinants for action must embrace many disparate permutations. Autocratic, opinionated executives will not travel far up today’s career ladder. The bossy, dictatorial attitude is often confused with decisiveness but intelligent leaders are never corporate bullies. Leadership in today’s fluid market is consensual and collaborative and if calibre executives feel they are being mistreated they will leave for alternative employment. They have a choice.

This arrogant persona contributed to the largest banking crash in history. Despite the ongoing years of mismanagement, the profit charts just went vertical and the leaders of these organisations were deified as the corporate model to imitate. When they spoke the financial press listened; when they gave presentations delegates made notes and they managed dissension in the boardroom with directives which could be summarised in their response “ship-in or ship-out”. The abuse of power was rampant and their credibility was never challenged.

One high-profile chairman with the accolade of being in charge of one of the worlds biggest bankruptcies volunteered that he did not understand most of the corporation’s products such as vehicles, instruments, puts or calls. He considered the remark as partly alleviating his responsibility rather than as a gross indictment of his competence. In the vernacular we call it losing the plot.

In summation, if you are a leader managing a project, department or corporation adopt an active listening mode and your executive decisions will be balanced and relational with successful outcome.

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