Why The Best Leaders Listen More Than They Talk

Jacob Morgan
3 min readMay 29, 2024


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Candido Botelho Bracher is the former CEO of Itau Unibanco which is Brazil’s largest bank with around 100,000 employees around the world. When I asked him for his best piece of leadership advice he said “listen more than you talk.”

In today’s fast-paced business environment, effective communication is essential for success. One of the most important, yet often overlooked, aspects of communication is listening. Leaders often feel the need to talk, communicate, and delegate in order to maintain control and assert their authority. However, this constant talking can hinder their ability to truly understand the needs and concerns of their team members. By actively listening, leaders can foster a more open and collaborative environment, where team members feel heard and valued. This, in turn, can lead to increased trust, higher levels of engagement, and better overall performance.

A study conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that leaders who exhibit strong listening skills are perceived as more effective, influential, and trustworthy. Furthermore, a report by the International Listening Association revealed that poor listening is the cause of 60% of all workplace errors and misunderstandings.

Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater Associates, attributes much of his company’s success to its culture of “radical transparency,” where employees are encouraged to openly share their thoughts and ideas. This approach relies heavily on active listening from leaders, ensuring that diverse perspectives are acknowledged and integrated into decision-making processes.

When Alan Mulally took over as CEO of Ford Motor Company in 2006, the company was on the verge of bankruptcy. By adopting a listening-focused leadership style and creating an environment where employees felt comfortable sharing their concerns, Mulally was able to turn the company around and secure its future success.

Here are some simple things you can do:

  • Put away any technologies that may divert your attention, such as phones or laptops.
  • Maintain eye contact: This demonstrates to the speaker that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say.
  • Pay attention to body language: Make sure your posture and facial expressions convey that you are engaged in the conversation.
  • Use verbal and physical cues: Nod your head, say “hmm,” or ask follow-up questions to show that you’re following along with the conversation.
  • Make the conversation feel collaborative: Encourage the speaker to share their thoughts by asking open-ended questions and acknowledging their contributions.

As a leader, it’s crucial to recognize the importance of listening and actively work to improve your listening skills. By doing so, you can create an environment where your team members feel valued and respected, ultimately leading to higher levels of trust, engagement, and overall success.

Remember, the greatest form of love and respect you can show someone is to truly listen to them.

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Jacob Morgan

4x Best-Selling Author, Speaker, & Futurist. Founder of FutureOfWorkUniversity.com. Exploring Leadership, Employee Experience, & The Future of Work