Effective leaders are good listeners. But here’s the problem: There are more than 250 MILLION web sites; YouTube says it uploads 300 hours of video every minute; the average TV watcher chooses from an average of 189 channels; and over 1 MILLION new books are published each year.

And there you are, trying to filter enough information to lead an organization and staff through one productive day out of 365! I remember hearing my Dad say, “Don’t believe everything you hear.” That’s true. But for the leader, hearing is absolutely crucial to doing and becoming. There are at least four groups of people that ought to “have your ear.”


Whatever your organization does, you still have a product to sell. What kind of products are your “customers” buying? Listen to what they’re saying. Listen to what they’re saying OTHERS are saying? Take their “consumer pulse.” Ask them about their needs, and how you can meet those needs. And then, don’t forget to follow through with action—and customer information.


You can’t meet the needs of your “customers” without first meeting the needs of your team. When they don’t feel valued, they can’t pass values along to others. Hear their suggestions. Hear their reservations. Hear their intentions. And then take steps to incorporate what you hear into what your organization does.


There are times when you can “go to school” in a coffee shop. Formal or informal times with other leaders should have you in a “sponge mode.” Soak up every profitable thing you hear about the things others do that relate to what you do.


What? You didn’t know you had an experienced pro on-board? That’s you. Those gut feelings based on previous experiences are priceless. You’re not just a leader, you’re a barometer. What you’ve already weathered influences the climate you want to achieve.

A Bible proverb reads, “Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers” (Proverbs 16:20). That’s a truth that will never have an expiration date.

–Stan Toler