People are funny. They’ll spend thousands of dollars to get a business degree. They’ll spend thousands more to earn an MBA (Masters of Business Administration.) The best students who complete those programs will learn a lot. They’ll learn a lot from many instructors who, themselves, are very smart.
Yet many of those students will begin their careers – and many more will wander through significant portions of their careers without grasping one of the most basic business lessons you’ll never hear in B-school. What is this sage for the age?
Whether or not they in fact practice what they preach, an advertising campaign from Verizon hit the nail on the head: “Can you hear me now?”
Imagine where so many businesses would be if they listened as much as they spoke. Long-time business icon, the late Peter Drucker counseled to stay close to your customer. Well, you can sit right on top of your customer but if you’re not listening to what that customer is telling you, your proximity doesn’t really amount to much.
Companies will spend millions of dollars on advertising, public relations, social media, et.al. with little or no consideration to what their customers want to hear. Companies will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants and then ignore their advice.
And it goes beyond listening to your customers. It also involves listening to your employees; to your community; and even to others in your industry.
Listening isn’t a function. It’s not even an art. It’s a mindset. It’s a commitment. It’s a humbling experience. It requires putting your omniscient ego on the back shelf in favor what someone else is saying.
It’s essential to any business endeavor.