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Are you a “Dumbo” Leader? Important Tip for Caring Leaders.

{ 8 comments… add one }
Listen leaders. Important tip.

Okay, so has this every happened to you? Your responding to a question someone is asking  and as you do, the person’s body language and facial expressions tell you they don’t care? The question may have even been meaningful and personal such as “how is the new job?” Or maybe you were just laid off and they ask “how are you doing?”

Well, I have… many times. And my response is always the same. I say something like “so, yeah…” and then I get up and leave or make an excuse as to why I need to leave. Next time you can bet when that person asks a question he or she will get the shortest answer possible. Why? Because I don’t trust that they really care. When the question was initially asked I thought that person did, but the body language and facial expressions say it all.

Sometimes I wish there was some sort of “don’t care” detector in which a persons ears would grow like Pinocchio’s nose when they acted liked they care, but didn’t. Some people might walk around with some fairly large ears, but it would do one of two things: either people would start caring, or I would know whether I want to spend much time and be vulnerable with my answer.

Leaders have an important responsibility to genuinely listen to those they lead. Leaders who listen, care. Leaders who don’t are fake.

What do you think? Do you know of any leaders with ears the size of Dumbo? Please share. How does it make you feel? How do you deal with it?

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Leave a Comment

  • Deb Hunt February 23, 2011, 3:36 pm

    As a leader, if I cannot give the time and attention to a client or colleague at the moment, and it’s not urgent, I tell them I’d like to really hear what they have to say and ask “can we meet in 30 minutes” (or whatever near time works). I quickly explain that I am in the “middle of …” or “expecting a call” and want to give my full attention to both, but can’t do that at the same time.
    If I’m at a professional event, I do try to circulate to meet those I do not know or connect those I know need to connect. And, I do pay attention to whomever I conversing with, not everyone else who may be entering the room.
    As you noted, it is no fun to have someone feign interest.

  • Mike Rogers February 28, 2011, 7:23 pm

    Great comments Deb. Thank you. It is important and respectful to listen and not be distracted by other things. As a leader you have no choice unless you want to lose the trust of those you lead.

  • Kathleen Staley March 1, 2011, 12:14 pm

    Good reminder to stop and listen or make time to listen to others. I know what it feels like to be on the other side…not fun and you don’t feel respected.

  • Merrill Frost March 1, 2011, 5:01 pm

    I know, and have known too many leaders who don’t care, and who make it obvious both by their actions, and verbally to others “in private” (which we all know private doesn’t exist). These leaders do not have the respect of their people, have higher turnover, and more morale problems than other leaders do. Totally reversible with a little listening and caring.

  • Mike Rogers March 2, 2011, 4:02 pm

    Thanks for your comments Kathleen and Merrill. Merrill, you are right, a little effort could go a long way.

  • Lori May 5, 2013, 4:55 pm

    Yes, I have been in that situation. While the ears didn’t grow, the wrist turned 3 times to catch the time.

    I was concerned about a required class novel that did not fit the emotional and social development of my students (grade 9)—having utilized the criteria given to me by my school Administrator for selecting curriculum materials in the classroom. The book dealt with rape, prostitution, condom use, and venereal disease in a district without a sex education policy. I asked my Administrator if she would like to read the book to come to her own conclusion, but she replied “I don’t have time.”

    Two weeks later, she recommended the title to another teacher. I think that her response and actions are the epitome of not listening, or worse, not respecting another’s viewpoint.


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