Adam Grant says, “The true leader in a group is rarely the person who talks the most.” I love this quote and perspective.
Adam has some great books that I recommend you read. He’s an Organizational Psychologist and a University of Michigan graduate. A few years ago, I had the privilege of hearing Adam speak in person, and I had strong takeaways from listening to him.
The quote goes on to say, “[The true leader is] usually the person who listens best. Listening is more than hearing what’s said. It’s noticing and surfacing what isn’t said. Inviting dissenting views and amplifying quiet voices are acts of leadership.”
So many times, the person who talks the most or the loudest person is the first to get noticed in group settings. I know because I do both of these things. As a leader, you have to pay attention to the entire room. You need to find smart people who don’t talk the most and reach out to them. They may not want to interrupt, but they probably have great views and perspectives. Show the quiet voices that you want to hear from them by mining for their thoughts.
I’ve found that since becoming CEO and the longer I’ve been CEO, the less people want to share with me. You have to reach for different perfectives; you’ll find gold when you do. Then you can elaborate on that gold which gives you a more fully formed perspective.
Leaders, this is a lost art. My background in sales has helped me with this. In sales, you’re constantly reading the customer’s verbal and nonverbal cues. You’re always digging for objections. Good salespeople know that objections should be celebrated because they lead you to the sale. When someone objects, they’re telling you how they’ll buy from you.
The same is true in leadership; when you hear dissenting views or opinions, bring them out. They’re telling you they don’t understand, and they’re not aligned. Dissenting opinions are asking for what they need to get to your perspective, and they all want to get there.
Remember to look around the room and look for quiet voices that don’t talk as much. Look for their quiet voice and amplify their perspective.