“To answer before listening – that is both folly and shame.” Proverbs 18:13
Leaders listen. In doing so they equip, encourage and empower others to be what the Lord is calling them to be. I believe the ability to listen and apply what is learned from others is what separates great leaders from the rest of the pack. Consider what Bob Logan and Sherilyn Carlton have to say about the power of a listening leader…
“Listening is anything but passive. It is active and powerful, a significant tool that God has given to use in the lives of others – for listening is the ultimate other-centered activity… the following list can serve as a guide as you work to sharpen your listening skills.
FOCUS: Give undivided attention to the person who is talking, without allowing your mind to drift off toward what you’d like to say next or to concerns in your own life.
SUMMARIZE: Summarizing is mirroring back what people are saying. At appropriate stopping points, reflect back what you hear the person saying, without interpreting, evaluating, or projecting feelings onto the person’s statements.
INVITE: When a person talks a bit about a topic and then stops, ask for more. Often people will introduce and issue, then stop discussing it prematurely because they are uncertain of the interest level of their audience. We often edit ourselves as we speak because we’re used to short attention spans in our listeners.
UNPACK: Exhaust the speaker’s resources before sharing anything yourself. Train yourself to think of their ideas as more valuable than your own. For them, they will be.
CLARIFY: Sometimes we are quick to think we understand someone, but we aren’t really on the same page after all. Check your assumptions by asking, “Here’s what I’m hearing you say so far… Is that accurate?” You’ll be surprised how often a helpful correction is made.” (Coaching 101 – Discover the Power of Coaching)
I hope these “Cardinal rules of listening” help you harness the power of this others-centered leadership art!
Learning to listen,