Two leadership keys: Seeing and hearing

Starting today, members of the Society for Technical Communication (STC) are electing the people who’ll lead them for the next couple of years.

As I read the candidates’ statements, a couple of themes predominate: seeing and hearing.


STC Election 2014 logoTwo candidates have major sections on their personal websites called “My Vision for STC.” Others speak about vision in their personal statements:

  • “We need leadership that has vision and capabilities to covert it to a road-map and finally an action plan.”
  • “I need to have both vision and sensitivity to consensus, to know when to yield and when to stand firm.”

Effective leaders must have the vision to see where the organization ought to be, they must see a path to that vision, and they must be able to show the way. The same holds true whether it’s a large corporation executing a grand master plan or or a small team working on a single project.


The candidates, all experienced leaders in their work and in STC, have a lot to say about listening.

  • “Leadership means you listen, identify issues, propose solutions, and implement the right ones.”
  • “I often listen to differing opinions and build consensus….I will always strive to communicate why a decision was made and to listen to opposing opinions.”
  • “I’ve learned that the best approach to leadership is to ask questions and LISTEN to make sure I have a good understanding of the situation before taking action.”

While vision is important, equally important is listening — and making adjustments, as needed, based on what you hear. It takes a lack of ego and it takes the courage to say “I know that I’m not the only one with the answers.”

Am I suggesting that leaders should compromise their principles when the principles prove to be unpopular? No. Being willing to adjust a vision simply means that the vision isn’t the guiding principle. The guiding principle is something bigger: getting the whole organization to move together to the place it needs to be.

Your Turn

If you’re an STC member, please take the time to read the candidates’ statements. Then vote in the election.

Who should you vote for? I know most of the candidates personally, and I know them all by reputation. They all are well qualified. By reading their statements you’ll discover which ones express a vision and a philosophy of leadership that you think are right for STC. Those are the ones you should vote for.

Finally, talk to me in the comments. Have you observed leaders who see and hear especially well? What other attributes would you say are required of an effective leader?

3 thoughts on “Two leadership keys: Seeing and hearing

  1. Pingback: Five reasons you have to vote in the STC election | Leading Technical Communication

Tell me what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s