The leader’s secret weapon: Listening
November 18, 2019
Great leaders are invariably intent listeners, but they still need to make the practice a priority.
Do you feel like your boss listens to you?
When I give talks to executive education students, I often pose that simple question to the group. Usually, only about one-third of them raise a hand — a grim reminder of how listening is becoming a lost art. We are communicating more over phones and computers, and in the age of social media, the default impulse is becoming “Look at me!” rather than “Tell me about you.” Many conversations seem like serial monologues, with one person talking while the others simply wait for their turn to say what they want to say.
Listening can be particularly challenging for anyone in a management or leadership position, given all the pressures they face. Dozens of unread emails pile up by the hour, and calendars are a wall of back-to-back meetings. It can be hard to be present in the moment.
But listening is not just a nice-to-have skill for senior executives; it is essential for effective leadership for two distinct reasons. First, to navigate the disruptive forces roiling every industry, leaders realize they need to build a team that brings a diversity of perspectives and experiences to the challenges their company faces. Getting this right is just the start. Once they have assembled a diverse team, leaders then have to draw out opinions with intentional listening.
The ExCo Group’s Adam Bryant wrote this article for his column in Strategy + Business. It was originally published here.