Why Leaders Don’t Listen

When was the last time someone let you know you mattered by listening to you?

Real listening is the dodo bird of leadership.

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13 reasons leaders don’t listen:

  1. Time. Be honest. You don’t have time to listen.
  2. Inconvenience. Listening is an inconvenience to leaders with a bias toward action.
  3. Knowledge. The more you think you know the less you need to listen.
  4. Solutions. You don’t really listen, you solve. The search for an answer isn’t listening. There are times to listen for solutions. But, people should know that up front.
  5. Blame. Self-protection invites leaders to listen for someone to blame.
  6. History. You stop listening when you’ve heard their story before.
  7. Compassion. Listening to help causes you to listen selectively for ways to be helpful.
  8. Lack of compassion. You just don’t care.
  9. Bordom. Some people are boring.
  10. Need to talk.
  11. Distraction. Include cell phones, email notifications, and your next meeting on distractions to listening.
  12. Decisiveness. Why listen when you’ve made up your mind?
  13. Fatigue.

Listening can be learned and developed.

Trust leaders who listen.

5 listening tips:

  1. Believe in the power of curiosity. Current knowledge blocks breakthrough; curiosity enables it.
  2. Set aside ten minutes to listen everyday.
    • Don’t evaluate.
    • Eliminate distractions.
    • Forget your agenda.
    • Exercise your listening muscle. You might need to start with five minutes. 
  3. Listen to language, but include energy and emotion.
  4. Courageously reflect what you hear. Describe the messages you make in your head and ask, “Is that what you mean?”
  5. Develop a list of great questions and use them.


Feeling heard is transformational. Until you feel heard, you resist your own development.

Leaders who listen extend respect and acceptance.

Listening is an invitation to belong.

People who listen to us, energize our transformation.

What prevents you from listening?

What tips for listening might you add?

Leadership is more than listening. What needs to be added to listening to make it leadership-listening?