LISTENING

Rehoboam Fails to Listen to the Right People

2 Chronicles 10:15

KING REHOBOAM’S dysfunctional leadership split the nation of Israel in two. His hunger for power, unreasonable demands, poor decision making, and lack of compassion for those who worked under him all conspired to doom his leadership. But probably the root of his problem can be found in 2 Chronicles 10:15: “So the king did not listen to the people.…”

Listening is one of the 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. Leaders must listen for two reasons:

1. to connect with others, and

2. to learn from others.

President Woodrow Wilson said, “The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.” What’s more, a good leader encourages followers to tell him what he needs to know, not what he wants to hear. Sometimes 50 percent of your leadership involves simple listening. So why did Rehoboam fail at this simple task?

1. Narrow Vision
The people promised to serve him if he lightened their load; he didn’t see it.

2. Poor Decision-making Skills
He wavered on what to do about their request and told them to come back later.

3. Self-centered Focus
He rejected wise counsel after deciding it didn’t match his desires.

4. Demanding and Impatient Style
He promised to make life tougher, not easier, for his people.

We learn from King Rehoboam the difference between “hearing” and “listening.” Hearing is a function of the ears; the king heard all the spoken words. Listening, however, is a function of the will; leaders listen to connect and to learn. Rehoboam failed to do both, as he refused to listen to history, his followers, the wise counsel of his staff, and to God.

Certainly we cannot listen to everyone—far too many opposing voices and views cry out for that. So to whom should leaders be listening? Listen especially well to the following:

1. Your Followers
Good leaders take the time to get a feel for each team member as a person.

2. Your Customers
Good leaders make it a priority to keep in contact with those they serve.

3. Your Competitors
Good leaders don’t imitate the competition, but they listen in order to learn from the encounter.

4. Your Mentors
No leader can afford to be without a mentor’s insight.

5. Your Inner Circle
Leaders must listen to those closest to them to confirm the pulse of the organization.