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Being Quiet Is Part of Being a Good CEO

Hal Gregersen, the executive director of MIT’s Leadership Center, has spent his career researching the difference between good and great leaders. He’s interviewed over 200 senior business executives— including Elon Musk of Tesla, Ed Catmull of Pixar, Sara Blakely of Spanx, and Marc Benioff of Salesforce — on how leaders become insulated from information they need, and why that can lead to a plethora of unexpected problems. Here’s a snippet of his findings:

“The problem is, when people move into that CEO role, they not only need to know how to do things that are currently being done, but they’re defining the future. That takes a completely different behavioral-set, mindset, and skill set. Many organizations don’t realize that, and when they get into that pure efficiency mode, solving and poking and challenging the status quo is not part of the mantra.”

So what is that behavioral set?

  • Stay quiet and prioritize listening when seeking out information
  • Get up and get out of the office and into the world with people you’re not normally with
  • Put yourself in situations that force you to ask better questions
  • Ask better questions and speak out about what you don’t know
  • Ask new questions by being in different places around different people

Read more about Gregersen’s research.

(Photo: “Quiet” by Paul Mison is licensed under CC by 2.0)

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