“Shut up and listen”

imagesI was listening to a great TED-talk the other day with the fascinating speaker Ernesto Sirolli, “You want to help someone? Shut up and listen!”.

Sirolli was talking about the habit of well-intentioned aid workers (including governments) whom, when they hear about a problem, go straight ahead to fix it. Sirolli means that this is the wrong way to go about fixing a problem as he means that instead of fixing the problem yourself, you empower the ones owning the problem to fix it themselves. Of course! Most people do not listen with the desire to understand – they listen with the intent to reply.  This goes for entrepreneurship and leadership as well!

Leadership is about creating possibilities for each employee to develop their own ability to solve problems, to learn and to grow. It’s about listening to what’s being said and to what’s not – it’s about empowering your employees! However, in order for you to be able to do this effectively there has to exist a mutual respect for each involved parts current experiences and knowledge. This means that we, as leaders, should and need to respect the ones we aim to “help”. It also means that in order for us to tap into each employees own spirit, we have to respect the current state – the ground zero – from which each their individual journey need to start. It is by meeting each person at their individual current level that we can support, inspire and motivate them to unleash the true force of power they have within – and by that grow.

What’s your thoughts on this? What does empowerment mean to you and from where do you start?

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