Shut Up and Listen: Leadership Lesson


A few weeks ago, my friend Chris Kurtz asked what people would do if they were the new CEO of Uber. That’s a big task, I thought. Being the CEO of a public company is hard enough. Try being the CEO of a public company under scrutiny.

Or writing a blog post using voice to text and one operational hand. The machines might be coming but they suck.

But really, the question had me thinking a lot over the past week. People talk a lot about managing from the bottom up but so few actually do it when it comes to the CEO, especially a new one.We are dressed and prepared to impress and persuade but in reality, our assumptions can be dangerous for a new CEO. Taking other people’s beliefs as truth is dangerous for anyone new to the company. Trusting other people’s data as truth is even worse.

I’ve been there. Everyone wants to offer up their opinions and advice and inevitably young leaders find themselves chasing ideas instead of building structured paths to success. They take action rather than stop to listen even more.

It is dangerous to everyone’s success if leadership is too focused on action over listening – if we start to multitask instead of find a vision and try to answer the right questions. This is exactly where products and people leadership go wrong. We stopped asking what people really need and started looking for one truth. One answer. One path. We started buying into case studies instead of studying ourselves. We started to trust sources that haven’t built the businesses and experienced the glory of failure.

It took laying down for a week to realize what I am supposed to do standing up.

The last week forced me to do things one at a time for the first time in a long time. I didn’t have the mental capacity to focus on a lot of things or the physical ability to actually do more than one of those things at once. For someone who prides herself on multitasking and speed, this healing process is going to require more than just physical training over the next 12 weeks.