The Unexpected Way to Spot a Confident Leader
Humble listening is an aspiration achieved occasionally. But it’s exhausting.
The ability to listen requires remarkable confidence.
It takes confidence to:
- Adopt the posture of learner.
- Turn conversations toward others.
- Reject tendencies to boast, out-do, or one-up.
Listening is easy until you get serious about doing it.
4 practices of humble listeners:
#1. Humble listeners listen to listen, not compete.
#2. Humble listeners listen to show respect and connect. You can’t one-up and listen at the same time.
#3. Humble listeners habitually make conversations about others.
#4. Humble listeners listen to experience the other person with all their joys, aspirations, frustrations, and accomplishments.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey
10 ways to strengthen your humble listening muscle:
- Engage in a three minute listening exercise with your team. The one rule is you can’t begin a sentence with ‘I’ while you’re the listener. Give everyone a chance to listen for three minutes.
- Practice the no ‘I’ rule once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
- Listen to ask a question. Curiosity is a compliment.
- Refocus when you notice your mind drifting. It’s likely you will need to bring your focus back every few seconds.
- Have two conversations a day where you stay focused on the other person until they turn the focus on you. Accept that some may never turn the focus toward you.
- Ask a question when someone asks you a question.
- What would you like to know?
- What brought that to mind?
- What’s going on for you?
- Listen with the intent to show respect.
- You must be proud.
- That’s exciting.
- How did you accomplish that?
- Listen with a calm spirit. Relax your breathing. Settle your mind. If you’re too busy to listen, you’re too busy to lead.
- Listen with an open heart. Judging isn’t listening. The answer to judging is learning.
- Listen for alternative viewpoints. “That’s a new thought. Tell me more.”
Tip: Hang around interesting people.
If leadership is about people – leading demands listening. The Scientific American reports that listening is a powerful tool of influence.
Don’t be fooled by bravado, a smooth tongue, or an aggressive posture. Real confidence is displayed with the ears, not the mouth.
Bonus: If you hope to bring value, open your ears.
What prevents leaders from listening?
How might leaders practice humble listening?
*I relax my 300 word limit on the weekends.