Listening for Leaders

December 28, 2009

     I happen to catch the Green Beret Qualification trials on the Discovery Channel last week. Tirelessly, these sleep-deprived  candidates had to climb walls, run through sewers, jog for miles with 150lb back packs. During one maneuver the group was divided into four teams. Each team had to construct a harness from a few pipes and rope and carry a 400lb barrel of fuel on foot for six miles. The teams were given strict time limits to carry out this rigorous mental and physical task.    

          Aside from the physical strength, endurance and clear thinking required to haul this barrel; it all came down to the leadership to make it happen. The winning team, as determined by the Green Beret instructor, was the group leader who put his ego aside to listen to his team, construct the most efficient harness and motivate his team to pull the weight. The winning team’s leader took into account all members’ suggestions. As time was precious, each member made suggestions built upon the previous contributor. It was up to the leader to pull the ideas together, commend those who offered suggestions, assign roles and supervise the execution of a plan. The leader of the successful team made all members of the team feel valued, whether their ideas were used or not. This process of mindful listening kept spirits high and was key to mobilizing the strenuous follow through effort to haul that barrel to the finish line.    

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