Thursday, March 2, 2006

Leadership and listening

Business Times p.B2
Thursday, March 02, 2006

The book Wisdom for a Young CEO is becoming one of my favorites. I strongly recommend that all aspiring and incumbent leaders read this book from cover to cover. President Arroyo could definitely use the lessons from this book.

Nineteen-year-old author Douglas Barry shares with his readers “incredible letters and inspiring advice from today’s business leaders” and his own lessons learned. Here are some striking thoughts:

H. A. Wagner, Air Products & Chemicals Inc.: Effective leaders are good communicators. You should work to develop good communication skills and become a good listener. (Underscoring is his) Leaders are certain to fail if they ignore input from colleagues and direct reports.

Leonard Riggio, Barnes & Noble Inc.: I try to hear things through the ears of others, and see things through their eyes.

Errol B. Davis, Jr., Alliant Energy: My sense is that leaders lead because people are willing to follow. No one will follow you if you do not listen to his or her concerns

Jack M. Greenberg, McDonalds Corp.: I have found that the two best qualities a CEO can have are the ability to listen and to assume the best motives in others.

J. Kenneth Glass, First Tennessee: Surround yourself with capable people who will challenge your ideas and decisions.

Carlos M. Gutierrez: What gains the support of your fellow employees is hard work, fairness, good listening ability, courage and being right on the issues.

Judith Rodin, University of Pennsylvania: Leaders are most effective when they make everyone who works for them feel valued. That is why forward-thinking businesses put a premium on creating an environment that encourages employees to share ideas, analyses or advice that lead to successful outcomes.

Jack O. Bovender Jr., HCA: There is nothing worse in a job environment than a bullying boss.

William Stavropoulos, Dow Chemical: A leader seeks and cultivates diversity of ideas, style, culture, gender and race. Leaders know that ideas are what count, and that they come from all over.

Charles M. Cawley: MBNA America Bank NA: First, the people of your company do not work for you—you work for them.

Uichiro Niwa, Itochu Corp.: The importance of being humble. What I mean by “humble” is not being obsequious, but that you listen to others’ opinions respectfully. I have encountered many people who were very confident of themselves without listening to others. Those people invariably failed in whatever they did.

R. Keith Elliott, Hercules Inc.: One must have self confidence but be humble enough to realize that true success is the ability to harness the best ideas of the team.

Don H. Davis Jr., Rockwell: Learn to be a good listener. Value and respect the opinions of others. Ask questions (e.g. who, what, where, when, why).

Jay M. Gellert, Health Net Inc: True leaders are always listening and learning.

Lessons learned from Douglas Barry: Close-mindedness is never conducive to the learning experience. The greatest of all thinkers and philosophers have borrowed ideas from another and expanded on them. A good leader learns from the mistakes he or she makes, and from the mistakes made by his or her peers, and works hard to better a situation based on those past failure or even past accomplishments. The person who admits weakness and ignorance, and works to better that weakness, succeeds more often than the person who believes the learning process ceases after and outside of school or the workplace.

Indeed there are “leaders” who refuse to listen and admit their mistakes because they derive their power from their position or title. Careful—positions aren’t permanent and titles, without moral action and stand, are empty.

Moje is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp. Send your feedback to

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