Tag Archives: Listening

Leadership is: Understanding

Is a lack of communication and understanding acceptable to us?

A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding. – Marshall McLuhan

As leaders it is easy to get caught up in our tasks. We desire for our team members to know and understand what it is we need and want from them, and if we aren’t careful we won’t give them a second thought unless something involving them is hindering our own process.

Once, I asked for a consistent weekly meeting with my leader to give direct reports and to stay on the same page (have understanding). They responded with, “I didn’t think you were that immature that you need me to hold your hand.” To be honest, my relationship with that leader lost some of its luster that day. From that point on, it felt like a lack of understanding and communication between us was acceptable.

So you don’t lose your shine, here are 3 steps to winning over your employees by Inc. Magazine: http://www.inc.com/3-steps-to-winning-over-your-employees.html

When we don’t communicate for mutual understanding with our team members it is a recipe for disaster! In reality, lack of communication and understanding will drive away your high performers. I’ve written about some habits of effective communication here and here.

Carl Robinson, from Advanced Leadership Consulting, has a great list on more of what drives away great performers here: http://leadershipconsulting.com/why-great-employees-quit.htm

In order to be effective, understanding leaders, we must practice these 2 habits:

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Leadership is: Listening

Hearing words is not the same as understanding them.

“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” – Ralph Nichols (interesting interview w/ Ralph Nichols)

Beneficial communication consist of two parts: sharing & receiving. It seems for most, that sharing, or talking, is far easier for the average person than receiving, or listening, is.  Also, since we’ve already discussed some healthy sharing habits in an earlier post, lets look at some healthy listening habits.

1. Forming a response, while another person is sharing, is not listening. Conversations move quickly, and they move even faster when more people are involved. It is possible that if we don’t form our response quickly we will miss our opportunity to share our insight. The problem with this perception is that our listening is still about us. Listening must be about the other person. If the conversation passes us by, and we believe our thought/response is beneficial, we can revisit it in the conversation, or say it later to the person one on one.

This leads us to our next habit:

2. Processing, or contextualizing, what another person is saying is crucial for communication. When we combine prior and current information we’ve received from the person with whom we are communicating, it allows us to understand better what it is they are saying. Also, we must listen to HOW they are saying it. It has been said that two-thirds of all communication is non-verbal. If this is true, we must listen to their tone and watch their body language. Paul Ekman discusses this practice in his book: Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life


3. Forming our response should not be based on who we are, but rather who the speaker is. We share with the hope that people will respond to what we’ve shared, others are no different. We must format our responses based on who they are so that one, they know they’ve been heard and two, so we can give a proper response. While this doesn’t seem to be an outright listening habit, the reality is we must listen to find out what type of person they are. This way our response can be a proper one.

This 2007 Bloomberg Business Week article has some more great leadership listening suggestions!

What listening habits help you listen better

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