Here’s a leadership fundamental that may seem to be counterintuitive: “Be quick to listen and slow to speak.”

Most of us associate leadership with “talking.”  Leaders have to be the boss.  They make decisions.  They give direction.  They provide inspiration.  They deliver the “hard” feedback.

All of that may be true.  But when you think about it, leaders must still place a premium on listening versus talking.

The best decisions occur when all the facts are apparent.  The leader doesn’t ever have all the facts, the team does.  The leader asks skillful questions and creates an environment where facts can surface.  That takes listening.

The path forward is often developed as the whole environment is fully evaluated, fully considered.  The best environmental assessments have multiple points of view. Again, the assessor leads by listening, not talking.

The most inspiring leaders are able to do so by communicating gratitude, expressing respect, having empathy for the situation.  You gain the insights to inspire by listening and understanding.

It’s a quandary.  We are taught to establish our competency by raising our hands and speaking up.  But as you navigate life, you’ll figure out that listening can be the fast track toward effectiveness.