Recently I stumbled on this convicting quote by legendary coach Bill Walsh, check it out:
“While a healthy ego is crucial in leadership, it turns unhealthy when self-confidence becomes arrogance, assertiveness becomes obstinacy, and self-assurance becomes reckless abandon. This is manifested when communication from leadership amounts to “Shut up and listen”—when your ego gets bigger than your ears.” Bill Walsh
Ouch… Why do we let our ego (which is evidenced by our mouth) get bigger than our ears?
- Some leaders are really smart – Like a supercharged 6.2L Hemi SRT Hellcat v8 with 700 horsepower. And with all those ponies under the hood there is no shortage of mashing the pedal to the metal when it comes to talking. Most of the talking is showing everyone how smart they are. God tells us “…be quick to listen, [and] slow to speak…” James 1:19 NLT
- Some leaders think they know everything – Being smart often leads to the trap of knowing everything. When one knows everything, they must provide all the solutions. My dad would say it this way, “they have to be the bride at every wedding and corpse at every funeral.”
- Some leaders love information and details –I love to read, learn, and figure stuff out, this can often be my weakness. Where there is a wealth of information an outlet is needed. This leads to talking too much.
- Some leaders feel compelled to lead – They feel compelled to provide every solution, solve every problem and always be the face everyone sees and voice everyone hears. As the leader their primary leadership tool is talking.
- Some leaders are insecure – Usually when leaders are insecure, they will grab control of everything, and this includes every conversation. They aren’t secure enough to allow others to speak into the moment or view it from another perspective.
- Often it’s a mix of all the above – The first five are specific, but truth be told, it’s often a mix of them all. A recipe of: a lot of smart, mixed with too much information, that talks way too much, not letting anyone else contribute, mostly because they are too insecure and can’t bear to let anyone else lead.
These six things leave others feeling unneeded and inadequate at times. Not to mention they suck the morale out of people. Hans Finzel in his incredible book The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make says it this way:
“Certainly, if followers have a bill of rights, the right to be heard by their leaders must be article one.” – Hans Finzel
Leaders need ears that are bigger than their mouths. For those in leadership sometimes this can be hard.
Sound Bite Leaders
How NOT To Burn Up Your Leadership Pocket Change