I recently embarked on a new leadership development journey that involved asking a number of people to rate my leadership skills and give me feedback about where I can improve. A strong theme emerged from the feedback around my ability to listen. This assessment did not surprise me – I am outgoing and talkative and can dominate a conversation when I am passionate about the subject. I know I need to work on “sharing more air” in meetings and social settings.
Just a few days after receiving this feedback, my Pastor gave a sermon on … you guessed it – listening. He described how, when he is distracted by thoughts but is supposed to be listening, he visualizes putting the thoughts into a boat and sending them off across the water. And just like that, I knew that I was not alone in my need to listen better.
I realized that listening without distraction is a leadership practice, and one that I intend to work on. Moving forward, I will strive to remember:
- By cultivating a quiet space – in my mind, heart, and/or environment – I can be more fully present for the person I am listening to.
- By listening to others, I show respect for them and their ideas.
- Allowing others space to share their thoughts (especially if I don’t agree with them) can feel uncomfortable. But by not allowing it, I miss the opportunity to know someone better or to learn something new.
- As a leader, listening to my team is the best way to set them up for success.
Three Brave Ways to Listen
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