There is power in listening, as referenced in the well-known story in the Bible of Jeroboam and Rehoboam in the book of I Kings. This is a perfect example of a leadership struggle and the importance of being a listening leader.
Jeroboam was a wise leader at the beginning of his life and was described as a "mighty man of valor" while his brother Rehoboam was described as "vain and foolish" and took cues from his father, the previous ruler. Rehoboam started his time as king hearing feedback from the people. They told him that his father, Solomon made their yokes heavy and burdensome.
There were two groups that Rehoboam went to for advice, one group had advised his father and were probably older and wise. The second group was younger, probably people he grew up with who were younger. Both groups had advice for him and he took time with both. The older group advised that if he was a servant to the people and speak good words to them, they would serve him forever. The younger group advised him to make their yoke heavier, and rule the people harsher.
Ultimately we know, that he made the wrong decision and listened only to the younger group and went to the people and told them, " My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips but I will chastise you with scourges!" (I Kings 12:14) This ended up dividing an entire kingdom. Jereoboam saw how the people turned against his brother and ended up trying to be a "people pleaser."
We can learn from both of these leaders the value of listening and receiving feedback as a leader. Just think what could have happened if Rehoboam would have gotten both groups together to discuss and brainstorm the best plan of action.
As a leader, it is always helpful and necessary to not insulate yourself with feedback from just one group. Taking time to listen to diverse views and perspective can only make you stronger as a leader. Be careful to not develop an "inner circle" as Rehoboam did and only listen to them. Having a listening ear is a good practice for leaders, to hear from employees on different levels. Giving employees or staff an opportunity to voice their opinion in decisions will give them more ownership in your mission.
How can you be a better listening leader today?
Originally posted Oct. 13 at Christian Leaders Alliance.
Heather McCulloch is the Director of Business Development and Marketing for Christian Leadership Alliance. After completing CLA's Christian Leadership Nonprofit Leader (CCNL) program through she used the credit she earned to enroll in the Master of Arts Program for Organizational Leadership at York College. This post is from her current course work.