Open ears

John Krutulis cites his mother, Marian, as one of his biggest influences when he
stepped into the role of head of
schools at Gulliver Schools Inc.

The elder Krutulis had run the
chain of private preparatory
schools — with five campuses
in Southern Florida and an
annual budget of $36 million —
since 1953 before handing the
reins to her son.

The younger Krutulis says the
most important lesson he
learned while working alongside
his mother for many years was
how to listen — not only to his
430 employees but also to the
parents of the school’s 2,200
students to make sure their
needs are met.

“When you are going to do
things for people, you have to
understand what’s best or what
the company can do and can’t
do, and then be able to express
to people why you can and cannot do certain things,” he says.

Smart Business spoke with
Krutulis about how to listen to
your employees and why you
should trust them to take the
lead on their suggestions.

Take the time to listen. Being a
good listener allows you to
take the best from your people
and get a good understanding
of what their needs are. And
listening to your clients [gives
you] a good understanding of
what their wants and needs
are of your business.

You have to be a caring and
understanding person to be a
leader. Your people … they
want to know that you are listening to them. Understand
what they want and then be
able to provide the things that
you identify that will best help
your business. And be able to
respond to them in a timely
manner and in a positive way.
Give them an answer to why
you’re either going to proceed
with something they’ve done
or why you haven’t.

The key factor is allowing
people to trust you and know
that they can come to you and
express themselves. When you
build confidence in your
employees and have a respect
for them, they respect you and
feel comfortable being able to
come to you.

You learn a lot about things.
If people know you’re willing
to listen to them, it makes
your company a better place,
because your employees have
the confidence of being able to
come in and tell you things
that you may not know.

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