Does it even matter?
One of the most powerful tools in the arsenal of an effective leader is the ability to listen and process information effectively, without bias.
General Colin Powell understood the fundamental importance of listening as a leadership skill: "Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand."
Listening of course, involves more than just hearing. It involves understanding. It implies a will to seek to understand, to go-beyond the information that's presented, with an energy, inquisitiveness, and a sense of purpose to fully comprehend a problem or situation.
Parents do it intuitively with their children. It doesn't come quite so naturally to us as managers.
In a business context, much as General Powell suggests, listening involves not only asking questions, but looking at data to find the unasked questions that will take understanding, and business outcomes to a new level. It involves the actions of simplifying, observing, paraphrasing, even negotiating.
To a very real extent, listening is the foundation for achievement in any organization.
A study on Listening, Communication Abilities, and Success at Work (Sypher, Bostrom, Siebert) suggested that non-supervisors possessed better listening abilities than supervisors, while the best listeners are in the highest levels in the organization.
This apparent 'gap in the middle', if it indeed exists in your organization, presents opportunities for immediate consideration and action.
So how do we become better listeners?
The articles, downloads, and resources presented in this letter (and this year's Healthcare Service Excellence Conference) are focused toward providing leaders of every description with the inspiration to lead, and the solutions to succeed in a time of massive change.
Please call or email me, to tell me of a time where your listening skills 'cut-through' a problem, and helped create a breakthrough.Kind Regards,
Brian Lee, CSP
Chief Executive Officer
Custom Learning Systems Group