Effective leadership is about listening more than talking. From my book, Entitled To Nothing…
Listen More, Say Less
After the press conference, I met with the team in a classroom in the Murray Center. That meeting is always a challenge, especially when it’s your first time in charge. The kids wanted to know who I was and what I was all about. And I was dying to tell them. But I wanted to listen more than talk. I resisted the temptation to talk about myself and made it a point to listen to them. I think seeing KP before the press conference when he handed me that schedule altered my approach. I needed to learn about the program, the players, and the culture. I needed to understand the personalities of the individ‐uals and the team. Your first day as a leader feels like it is supposed to be about you, but it’s really about the team in front of you.
It might be the biggest challenge you face when taking over a new organization – you want to make an impact and instill your culture right away. You can see what the program is going to look like, and you can’t wait to get it there. But it requires patience and mental discipline. You have to listen to your players and learn about them before you can get them to buy-in to your beliefs. Effective leadership is about listening more than talking, especially early on as you establish relationships.
A culture is built over time through daily action and approach. It’s a brick by brick scenario. And haven’t we always been taught that a great leader is the guy in the front of the room, telling everyone what the plan is? Well, I learned on my very first day that listening is one of the most powerful weapons in leadership. And the knowledge you need to build your organization the right way comes from the people you are trying to lead. Your connection with them is more important than your ideas about how to build your program.
That day, I started to understand a truth I would come to believe in strongly as a head coach. I learn the most about my team—and we are at our best—when I am listening to my players. The standard model of coaching—with the leader in the front of the room telling everyone what to do—isn’t the most effective model. It isn’t the best way to get the most out of your team. Talk to your people. Ask them questions. They may not always tell you what you want to hear, but they will tell you what you need to know.