Ask 100 CEOs for the weakest link in theirskills and more than half will probably admit, “I should listen better.” Case in point: Teresa Taylor, chief operating officer of Qwest, recently told The New York Times, “When I would get feedback along the way in my career, people would say, ‘You’re not a very good listener.’ ” Why is it so hard for powerful people to listen?
It boils down to motivation. The ugly truth is that some senior executives think what they have to say is more important than what underlings might say. They also tend to let their big egos interfere; they may think, “If I’m not talking, I’m subservient. I look weak.”
If you want to listen better, check your assumptions. If you assume you need to overexplain your views or repeat yourself to drill home your point, you’re in trouble. But if you believe that the best way to influence others is to let them talk and validate their comments, then you’ll want to listen.