Why The Key to Leadership is Listening—and How to Do It Better

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Andy Stanley said, “Leaders who refuse to listen will eventually be surrounded by people with nothing helpful to say.”

If listening is so important, why are so many of us bad at it? The answer is simple: we don’t understand the difference between hearing and listening.

The Difference Between Hearing and Listening

A mentor of mine told me that hearing is through the ears, but listening is through the mind.

Hearing is an ability, listening is a skill.

You have to make the choice to listen to the ideas and perspectives of others instead of just hearing them. When you do this, you have found the key to leadership.

How well you listen determines how well you connect, and connection is key to leadership.

If you struggle to listen, here are a few tips to help you develop the skill.

Anchor Yourself

You can’t listen until you are anchored into a conversation.

Put away your phone or any distractions. If for some reason that isn’t possible because of other priorities, be honest and remind yourself you need to come back to this when you are able to anchor yourself.

Consider What Others Are Saying

There is too much going on in today’s business environment for a leader to know it all.

Ensure that, when others are providing ideas, you are truly considering what they are saying and not just thinking about how you are going to respond.

Prove You Listened

While the implementation of every idea isn’t possible, testing the idea or discussing it in more detail, rather than disregarding it, is a great sign you listened.

What strategies prove you listened?

If I asked your spouse, “Is he/she a great listener?”—what would they say?

Tell us about a leader who is a great listener. What do they specifically do to show you?

Bio:

John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company that exists to turn managers into leaders. He was named a 2017 LinkedIn Top Voice in Management & Workplace. He is also the author of the upcoming book, Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Other to Success, and host of the Follow My Lead Podcast. As a motivational speaker, he connects to the hearts and minds of leaders from all industries and experiences.