|Image credit: “The
Narcissistic Society: it’s all about ME” - May 2014|
True leaders work diligently and sincerely to be the best listeners in their organization. It is no small feat because not all have “great listening skills” coming on as second nature. Much like other top leadership skills we acquire, active listening is developed and constantly honed.
Related: 6 Effective Ways Listening Can Make You a Better Leader
I am both a leader and a follower. In my experience, leaders who become experts at active listening have the ability to sift through the clutter of extraneous information and derive key insights. That enables them. More importantly, they make others feel great about themselves, lifting them up. For followers, experiencing active listening from their leader is a gift highly valued. Feeling listened to and not just heard, is empowering.
Getting to this point is not easy. If your interest is in developing above average listening skills, then perhaps like me, you have consumed dozens of well researched and well-meaning articles and books on the subject and attended a number of trainings. Whether it's for the purpose of becoming a really admirable and effective leader, a more considerate partner, a more empathetic teacher, a better friend, etc., you have read it, heard it, digested and processed the advice, and have actually started putting it into practice. Yet somehow, you still occasionally find yourself squirming in your chair, sitting on your hands, maintaining the eye contact, as you agonizingly wait for that pause from the other party so you can finally get YOUR point across. Unfortunately, if the party doing the talking is wrapped up talking about themselves, that time might not come.