The Secret and Power of Listening


Leaders often rise to leadership because they’re great talkers. Now it’s in the way.

You can’t connect, communicate or influence without listening. Bad bosses talk. Successful leaders listen.

Stop talking about listening.


I still remember the day I asked my wife if I was a good listener.

What’s worse than being told you aren’t good at something you think you’re great at?

When she said I wasn’t a good listener, I felt like talking not listening.

Roadblocks to listening:

  1. Disinterest in connecting.
  2. Long-talkers and explainers who never get to the point!
  3. Knowledge. Talkers know.
  4. Distraction by what’s next.
  5. Multi-tasking.

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Go away if you’re physically present but not paying attention. Stop wasting time and insulting others.

Closed listeners ask:

  1. How does this impact me?
  2. When have I experienced this?
  3. What would I do about this?
  4. Where can I take this conversation?
  5. What do I need to tell?

Adapted from: Coaching for Engagement.

How to open your ears:

Forget about advanced listening skills. Don’t jump to active, critical, or appreciative listening.

Open your ears by closing your mouth.

Look in their eyes and stop jabbering. Leaders are listeners.

Jumping from poor listening to advanced listening is like using a dragster for driving lessons. You’ll crash and burn. In addition, going from not listening to active listening creates paranoia in those around you. “What’s going on?”

One question:

What do they want me to know, feel, or believe?

Open listening:

Four more questions:

  1. How are they measuring success?
  2. What beliefs are they expressing?
  3. What are they feeling?
  4. What strengths, challenges, or opportunities can I affirm?

Adapted from: Coaching for Engagement.

Listening is connection.

Connecting is influencing.

Influencing is leading.

Leaders who don’t listen don’t connect.

What listening roadblocks prevent leaders from connecting?

What listening strategies enable connection?

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