Telling and Selling, or Listening and Learning?


Most leaders tell and sell rather than listen and learn.

We’re always telling our people what we’re going to do as a church; projects, programs, goals etc., or we’re trying to sell the idea we have in order to secure their support and participation. We also do a lot of telling people what they should believe. After all, that is our job as preachers and teachers, tell people what to believe, isn’t it?

This approach (telling and selling) has been pushed upon us from the very beginning of our training to be pastors and leaders. We were told, so we tell. We were sold, so we sell. It’s not entirely our fault that we turned out this way. On top of that, we’re good at it. And I’m not convinced that this is altogether a bad thing, however, always telling and selling is always exhausting.

The problem is, when all your time is spent telling and selling there is little time left for listening and learning.

A leader is not so much someone out in front yelling, “follow me”, as they are an agent of collaboration and team-building. If we see collaboration and desire team-building we will need to learn more listening and learning than telling and selling.

You can’t listen and learn until you ask your people, your leadership team, your board, your spouse… great questions. Here are few questions that will help you listen and learn:

What do you think?

What do you see that I don’t see?

Do you have a better idea?

How do you think we might better achieve our goals?

If I have a blind spot, what do you think it might be?

If you were in my shoes what would you do?

Can you shoot any holes in my idea?

Can you give me a few options?

I’m not suggesting that a leader should never tell or sell, only that, always telling and selling fails to produce collaboration and team building, and always telling and selling is always exhausting.

What are some ways that you might get better at listening and learning? Who do you need to listen to? Who do you need to learn from?

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