Leadership is about telling people where to go and what to do. Right?

Well, no.

The truth is that, as Marshall Goldsmith proclaims, leadership is 80% listening. How do we resolve this disconnect?

The key concept that’s usually missing is engagement. And because every person is different, they have unique needs for contributing to your organization.

We’ve seen many times that paying people doesn’t result in significant engagement. It can get you compliance, yes, but that’s the bare minimum. And you don’t really need much leadership when you’re asking for mere compliance.

If you’re reading these messages, you’re looking for more.

So what’s listening really for? It’s about understanding each person’s unique situation. What’s going on in their life. Why they’re a part of your organization. What drives them to do great work for you.

Why they care.

But it’s not just about understanding. If it was, you could have a pretty quick conversation with each of your people. Ask them a few questions, capture the answers, and you now understand.

The more important part is connecting. Your folks need to know that you care. About each of them as an individual.

Sure, you can’t give everybody what they want. You have to do what’s best for the team and for the organization’s goals. But that doesn’t mean you don’t care, right? And your job is to find the best overall balance.

It’s about caring enough to take the time to really listen. Deeply.