Doug Fleener's

The Day Makes the Year


Leaders: Look Who’s Talking

Jul 19, 2023

No, we aren’t talking about the 1993 movie with Kristie Alley and John Travolta. And, of course, the talking baby. Do you remember who voiced the talking baby? 

Ding ding! Bruce Willis. But I digress.

There are two kinds of leaders. 1) Those who talk more than they listen. 2) Those who listen more than they talk. It’s obvious which one will be more successful in their role. Even a talking baby would say the leader who listens more than talks.

Ask most leaders, and they will tell you they listen more. Many of them are mistaken. 

When at Bose, I was traveling with a multi-unit manager. One day while visiting stores, I noticed he talked about 90% of the time with the staff. He had them engaged. They were laughing. He was telling them about new programs. He was telling them about new sales tools coming out. When one employee tried to ask a question, he cut them off and kept talking. 

Afterward, I asked him what he learned on the visit. He talked about all of the things he saw in the store. But he couldn’t tell me a single thing about the employees. How were they feeling? Are they happy? What suggestions did the employees have? How can we better support them? How can we help them sell more? 

He had no idea. He not only had no idea about the things I asked, he had no idea that he talked 90% of the time. 

Leaders learn from their teams. It’s one of the most important things they do in The Day. It gives leaders the information they need to improve things for customers, employees, and results. You can’t learn when you’re talking.

When with employees, look who’s talking. 

When with clients, look who's talking. 

When with vendors, look who’s talking. 

The best leaders not only listen. They know they listen more than talk. 

So let me ask three questions:

1)    Have you ever seen a talking baby?

2)    Did you like Bruce Willis more as a baby or as a New York police officer in Die Hard?

3)    How much are you listening versus talking?