Living in a democracy, we expect our leaders to listen to our concerns and grievances, to address them but most of the time we feel disheartened and unheard. The big problem is most leaders are great speakers and rarely great or even good listeners.
Once you gain knowledge, experience and popularity, you feel excited and the need to talk, to get applaud, somehow it ends up being all about you, you and you- what you say, what you believe, what your commitments and priorities are, what your practices and principles are, what your perspective is. It almost doesn't matter what others feel, need or go through as a result of our words, actions and behaviour as a Leader who is a speaker and not a good listener.
Eventually, you may lose patience in listening even for a shorter duration and feel the rush to talk and exit a meeting or end the conversation from your side. This is commonly seen in corporate leaders, government and political leaders, motivational speakers and coaches, life coaches, teachers and principals, influencers, celebrities and even at home for members who have a strong financial position and whom others rely on.
The sign of great leadership is not in speaking but in listening. It is then that you have to practise patience with others and help them express themselves. It is then that you have to silence your "invisible ego" and order it to be receptive to learning and open up to others' perceptions instead of thinking that only you know the right thing and the right way.
It's great to talk, to share your thoughts, lessons, wisdom and what you know with small or large groups of people, online or offline but it should not be a habit to just be heard by others without hearing them, to be just expecting others to be patient with you without being patient with them.
A leader who truly listens to those whom he or she leads, online or offline will have the real respect and trust of the people and not just respect for the image created as a result of external branding mediums through the internet, social media, the number of fans and followers.
When leaders listen, those under them feel valued, feel heard, feel appreciated and more can be done with lesser efforts and less dependency on corruption, bribery, manipulation, deceit, flattery and other unethical practices. When leaders listen, they learn more about not just those they lead but they also learn more about themselves, their own strengths and weaknesses. When leaders listen, they create leaders who listen and who don't just give orders and instructions or expecting people to set good examples without themselves setting a good example.
Only when leaders truly listen will there be lesser noise, lesser suffering, lesser corruption, lesser deceit, lesser manipulation in the homes, in the companies, in the countries and the world.
(Madiha Ahmed is a Socio-Cognitive Development Expert, an Intergenerational Family Leadership Coach)