“If you listen for the whispers, you won’t have to hear the screams.” This Sioux wisdom is a valuable thought for leaders to heed. Peter Nultry says, “Of all the skills of leadership, listening is the most valuable, and one of the least understood.” Tom Moran says, “Quality listening and leadership are inseparable.”  Bill Kroll says, “Listening is the act of acknowledging the unique value of the thoughts and opinions of others.”  The only way you perfect an idea is to be able to adequately articulate the idea, enlist other people’s reactions to the idea, get their feedback, and be willing to listen, adapt to changes, and make a decision.”

I developed the following thoughts for you from a book named, Listening Leaders. As companies grow, owners acquire more leadership responsibility, which increases the importance of leadership communication skills – especially listening. Unfortunately, our self-centered tendencies lead us to form opinions, answers, conclusions, and responses before we truly understand the full meaning of what is being said. Start today to work on the following attitudes and skills to improve the leadership benefits of quality listening:

  • The key to developing leadership listening skills is in knowing how to search for the hidden value in the message.
  • You must practice self-control when listening to focus on interpretation and understanding rather than premature evaluation, reaction, and inappropriate responses.
  • Positive listening skills begin with developing an attitude that skilled listening is critical to leadership success. We must believe that everyone has something to teach us; we must value the viewpoints of others. To understand another person’s message, we must listen with the intent to thoroughly comprehend the other person’s viewpoint.
  • We can only employ the benefits of listening if we….listen patiently, ask follow-up questions, clarify answers, and voice our interpretation of the message to confirm our understanding is correct.

Good listening is a learned and improvable human behavior; start today to develop your own listening leadership communication skills; begin to promote the importance of improved listening within your company by teaching other aspiring leaders within the organization good listening skills.

To learn more about leadership and quality listening skills, a good read is Listening Leaders by Dr. Lyman Steil and Dr. Richard Bommelje.

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