High impact leaders listen first

Photo by Miloslav Janovský on Unsplash

Charles dispensed with the PowerPoint talking points he had prepared for the staff information session and asked the audience what they wanted to talk about. He wrote their questions on a whiteboard and worked down their list in a two-way conversation rather than the formal presentation that they had anticipated. It made a real impact. The team were impressed that Charles had spent the time to listen and respond to them, instead of delivering the latest set of key messages about the organisation’s strategy and vision.

Charles understood that to make an impact as a leader he needed to first put his attention on others. He was a good public speaker and had a slick PowerPoint presentation but he had learned the hard way that people want to be heard first. He had tried too many times to get people to move forward before understanding their concerns, only to be frustrated by delays and opposition. It was etched into his psyche that a powerful two-way conversation was the best way to make progress. That meant that he should spend as much time listening as he did speaking.

It seems that we all crave being heard, particularly as our ‘always connected’ world can leave us more alone and isolated than ever.  

Sherry Turkle, MIT Psychologist and author of Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age suggests that we need to put down our digital devices and engage in the art of conversation. She believes that in our digitally connected world we are losing the capacity for quiet reflection and we therefore have less empathy for others. She says it’s only when we’re comfortable by ourselves that we can genuinely see others and listen to them.

Are you listening for impact?

Best regards, Brian

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