Listen to Your People – Even the Difficult Ones

As a leader, one of your greatest challenges is listening to your people’s ideas and assimilating them into something that is useful for your organization.  This becomes even more complicated when you have people working with you who have “difficult” personalities.  Difficult personalities exist in each organization.  Just as with all employees, those with difficult personalities were hired because they have something constructive to offer to the organization.

Because those with difficult personalities can be taxing to you and others on your team, you may sometimes feel the need to shield yourself from those with difficult personalities.  Once you start shielding yourself from them, you also stop listening to them.  This is a dangerous position to be in as a leader.

Consider the human body.  It has many parts, and each individual part is important to making up the whole body.  It would be impossible for the body to function without a heart or a brain.  There are certain activities the body could not do if it were missing a hand or a leg.  Each part of the body is important and has a purpose.

Just like the parts of the human body, your team is made of individual people who are important to the overall functioning of your team.  Each person is important and has a role to play on your team.  If that role is not being filled, the whole team is impacted because of it.  Even the difficult people are important and have a purpose.

As a leader, you need to see the value of each team member – even the difficult ones.  What I have learned is that often times difficult people have some very good ideas.  They may see things from a different perspective, they may be more willing to tell you when something is not working properly, and they may be more honest in their assessments.  Instead of shielding yourself from those who are difficult, strive to befriend them and listen to their ideas.  You may be surprised by what you learn from them that can be very beneficial to your team.

 Author: Scott Ross

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