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Listening to Leaders

From a talk by Tim Jackins at a teachers’ and leaders’ workshop in Connecticut, USA, May 2000

Often leaders have no one who simply listens to them. They have people who are committed to following them, but most of them still lead in isolation.

If you’re leading, you’re supposed to do everything perfectly all by yourself. You’re supposed to take all the initiative, and you get to be blamed if everything doesn’t work perfectly. People tend to go passive and expect you to do this.

That’s a tough position, especially if you don’t ever get to talk to anybody. I know Co-Counselors who go to the leader of whatever group they’re in and say, “I’m going to listen to you for half an hour each week. When do you want to set it up?” I know a teacher who did that with her school principal. It startled the principal enough that he didn’t know what to say. So he said, “Okay, I’ll, ah . . . Friday afternoons.” And she just goes in and listens to him. That’s all—just listens to him for half an hour. And he looks forward to it.

I did that with one of my college presidents. It wasn’t explicit. I would just show up every so often [I would just appear occasionally], sit down, and not have anything to say, and he’d fill all the space. I was doing this with him, and then I got pulled off to do a bunch of workshops. I remember coming back after a summer of workshops. I walked in, and he looked over and said, “Where have you been?” (Laughter) He couldn’t openly admit it was useful—but he let me know.

Tim Jackins

(Present Time 185, October 2016)

Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00