As I mentioned yesterday I was at the Ottawa CEO of the Year event and listened to some pearls of wisdom from this year’s recipient, Don Smith from Mitel.
Almost always when listening to business leaders I pick up on some of their experiences and lessons … after 14 years of running my own company I am certainly under no illusions that I know it all! Sometimes the lessons reinforce or remind me of lessons I have learned along the way (and sometimes forgotten again)! Sometimes the lessons are a fresh way of looking at previous experiences and sometimes its just new stuff.
Don Smith was kind enough to share a number of his lessons and while I could probably talk about most of them I thought I would focus on one that resonated with me. He talked about … “listening to the quiet voices too … because it is not only the extroverts that have great ideas!”
He talked about developing a style, or a means of getting to those ideas because often their authors will not be heard because the “noisy ones” (like me) are too busy yakking!
This is an area where I can still improve and certainly I have been told on more than one occasion that I should “shut up and let others talk” 🙂 (Good job I don’t offend easily).
So … if you are a leader, how do you endure those quiet voices are heard? How do you encourage people to contribute when its not in their nature to be in the spotlight, and they would much sooner let the “loud voices” be heard?
I think its important to have a culture that encourages input … and that means it needs to be safe for people to voice opinions.
In meetings there needs to be some control to ensure everyone gets a chance … and that might mean telling people like me to “shut up’ and let someone else have a say!
It might mean being intuitive enough to understand when people have something on their mind, and maybe taking them aside to get to the heart of it.
It might mean taking that extra effort of watching those with the “quiet voices” carefully and looking for the telltale signs.
It might mean providing multiple means for people to have input … verbal, written, public, private, maybe even anonymous (suggestion box).
Does your company listen to the quiet voices … or are you missing out on those nuggets?
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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