Bradley Kimberlin, Columnists, V7I2

Take Time to Stop and Listen

(Photo courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels)

“Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.” — Andy Stanley

As a leader, you are expected to have answers. Most of your day is spent answering questions and solving problems. It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you must always be the guy with the answers and not take time to stop and listen to others.

As a leader, you also need input into your life. You need to be willing to stop giving answers and start asking questions. You do not need to feel like you must always have the answers—it’s okay to say, “I don’t know but let’s figure it out together.”

Here are some tips to bring listening into your life:


Having a trusted group of peers (not made up of people you work with frequently) that you can meet with on a regular basis is a valuable thing. Being able to be completely open and honest, knowing that everyone in the room cares about each other’s best interests, provides you with a place to be vulnerable and does not require you to have all the answers. 

There are several good organizations out there that provide something like this: Vistage International, C-12, and Convene, just to name a few. Another suggestion is to find a local business chapter or start a breakfast club.


My dad used to say that when you are getting advice, always have at least one person you ask who will tell you no. Now, it is easy to find consistently negative people, but what my dad meant was to have someone who cares enough about you that they won’t just agree with everything you say. 

Even if most of the time their perspective is radically different from yours, if you are truly open and honest, it will force you to think through decisions and explain your thought processes.


If you have a steady stream of similar-type decisions coming to your desk, ask yourself if you’ve empowered your team. I’m talking about management by delegation, not by abdication. 

Most times we get confused and think that delegating a decision means we get to abdicate ourselves of the responsibility. True delegation is another person acting on your behalf, so you need to train carefully for them to be your representative. 

At the same time, decide what’s important and what’s not. Take a day or two and keep a record of the financial and personnel impacts of the questions you are being asked and figure out how to get rid of the questions with minimal impact.


Working with a business coach is like the benefit you receive through a peer group. You get insights from multiple other businesses and perspectives and you have someone that you can ask questions. 

Having a coach that is familiar with your business allows the relationship to become highly efficient, meaning you do not need to spend a lot of time laying a backstory or explaining events that led up to this decision. Another set of eyes and perspective provides you with a tool in your bag to scale up your business.


Your team, regardless of their titles, has valuable insights for you about your business. You cannot be everywhere at all times, and they are oftentimes the front line in dealing with customers and vendors. What are they saying? Are you asking for feedback before making important decisions? 

While they may not feel the pressure of the bottom line as keenly as you do, they will bring an important human element to decisions. Have a regularly scheduled way of getting feedback from your managers and routinely spend time with the rest of the company in casual conversation, listening for insights.


“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5 (NIV)

I put this point last because I want you to remember this even if you do not remember anything else. Spending time with God in prayer is the greatest source of wisdom that you can find. 

The great thing is God is willing to give it to you—if you are willing to ask and listen. 

Finding the time to slow down and listen takes discipline and it may seem like you are not getting stuff done, but it will pay off. Having a personal relationship with God is key to being a great leader.

Until next time, Be Excellent!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Current Issue

April/May 2024