Listening for Leading


Can I tell you what I think? We have become more of a telling, and less of a listening culture. If it is: email, texting, posting, sharing, tweeting, speaking or some other way of getting the information OUT, then that seems to be our dominant communication direction. Listening means that I choose to take information IN.

There is nothing inherently wrong with all the OUT – put of our communication. The problem is when we don’t balance it with the IN –put of listening. In my work as an executive coach, I find that most leaders need more emphasis on the listening, rather than the telling.
When we choose to listen to folks, I mean really listen, by giving them our full attention, we honor them and hear them like never before. In the listening experience we create a welcoming hospitality for the other person and their thinking. And if we have listened deeply, we probably respond with more questions for deeper shared understanding. Listening allows us to explore our curiosity about others. It is foundational to building the professional and personal relationships we all want.

Listening is not just suspending my own ideas and thoughts until the other person is done speaking and/or takes a breath. (And now that there is a break in the action, let’s get back to my talking/input.) Listening is the bridge we offer to others to cross over from the land of you or the land of me, into the land of us. Listening is the bridge to a place that we co-create together. In our place of shared understanding and curiosity, is where relationships are built, where collaboration can happen and trust flourishes. How often are you extending the bridge of listening to others?
In-N-out is not just a great name for a hamburger chain. It is a good way to think about communicating as a leader. Lead with the IN of listening and let the OUT of telling come primarily from others. In-N-out communication facilitates the better leadership and collaboration we need and desire. Try some today!