This week I had the great opportunity to lead a couple of workshops at the CareNet conference in Orlando Florida. One of the things that we talked about was being aware of your surroundings and listening as a leader. The reality is most of us are so busy doing things for ourselves, that we are not aware of what is going on around us. I remember watching someone a few weeks ago driving down the road eating a salad. Completely oblivious to everything that was going on around them. Driving the car was just a side issue at the time. And yet that is the one thing they should be focusing on.
Today I had another bad experience at a restaurant that I really love going to. I was just grabbing some quick food. My order was taken and then the cashier walked away to go do something else. After 10 minutes of standing there,I finally asked someone, "Can you please check on my order?" Totally unaware, the cashier came back and took somebody else's order and totally forgot what they were doing with me. We must be aware of what is going on around us. Take some time today if you are out driving and when you stop at a red light, look around and check out your surroundings.
Next time you're talking to someone, listen to them closely. What are they saying with their eyes? What are they saying with their vocal inflection? Are you completely aware of what is going on?
As a dad, when my kids were younger, I used to take them to the mall or to a restaurant. I was like a spy. I was always watching other people to make sure my kids were safe. I was watching other people to make sure they were not going to do my children harm. I was memorizing license plates of other cars nearby, just in case. I believe we need that same kind of awareness as leaders when we are working with people. Being aware and listening will keep us out of a lot of trouble.
I shared this week with the leaders at the conference a quote that I recently heard, "If a leader does not listen to those around him, he or she will soon be surrounded by those who have nothing to say."
What do you think? How important is listening?