Leaders And The Curse Of Selective Hearing


photo credit: clarita

anger brings clarity

Almost a decade ago a conference speaker forever changed my professional life and outlook — by pissing me off.

The amicably boisterous guru-consultant strutted the stage and rattled off statistics and then he dropped a bomb:

In my work, I’ve talked to more of your members than you have.

Over 2,000 people in the hall and I literally phsycially jumped up.  All alone.  When I sat back down and looked around, colleagues sat in a trance as he prattled on through his data (our data).  I heard nothing else he said.  I saw red — pissed off beyond measure.  He was right.  When he retired a few years ago I sent him a note thanking him and he called a few weeks later congratulating me for “getting it”.

the management sucking sound

See that magical shift of you moving from an organization or business leader into a manager of tasks and checklists?  The creativity and initiative that got you into that leadership seat slowly getting sucked away.  Instead of creating what delivers numbers you now numbingly try to simply make numbers or report the numbers you’re not making.

bread and butter

Members, customers and clients pay the bills, pay payroll, and keep the lights on — they are our bread and butter.  Make the commitment to never, ever let some bombastic, gold Rolex sporting, Brooks Brothers suit wearing consultant talk to more of your customers than you do.  Ever.

selective hearing means you won’t hear anything

As leaders we can allow ourselves to become mired in the reports, checklists, meaningless meetings, bureaucratic b.s., politics, next title or promotion and other useless crap.  We fall into the trap of only listening to the squeaky wheels and our BFFs – selective hearing.  Ignoring the super-mega-powerful-silent majority of customers.  At our peril.  Reserving our attention for .01% of customers — brilliant strategy (sarcasm).  Even more genius we’ll hire a consultant at $400/hr. to talk to the other 99.99% so we can have a really pretty and shiny report to file away – check it off the list…next.

raise anchor!

Un-anchor your butt from that PC and pile of reports detailing last month, last week or even yesterday and grab hold of your leadership future.  Move your butt, stop covering it.  Spend time with who matters — customers and staff teams.  Ask them Scott Stratten‘s 3 questions:

  1. What should we start doing?
  2. What should we stop doing?
  3. What should we do more of?

Scott is the author of UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging. (aff).   After you’ve talked to 18 to 20% of them, DO SOMETHING WITH WHAT YOU LEARNED!!!!

By the way: I’ll ask your customers those 3 questions for you for $1,000 and put it in a shiny report for you to file away if you don’t have time – let me know, few of those and I can get one of those fancy gold watches.

engage, learn, act, grow

In this new economy a pretty report covering past information on deadline won’t get you that new promotion and fancy title.  Business GROWTH will.

Talk to your members, customers, donors and clients now or someone else may be soon.

“Consultants have credibility because they are not dumb enough to work at your company.” -Scott Adams