Listening is Creative Compassionate and Productive

Listening is Creative, Compassionate and Productive

I was once the owner of a company, decades ago, before I became a coach. And due to poor leadership, it eventually went bankrupt and so did I. Among the many lessons learned the hard way, was that I was not a good listener and I didn’t listen to my people. I thought leadership meant honoring my own thinking and downloading it to others and then micro-managing their adherence to my wisdom.

I thought, or felt, that listening implied weakness from a leader. It took a long road of suffering to finally realize that my lack of listening reflected my deep insecurity about whether I was worthy to lead. Over the years I’ve come to see how listening… brave, compassionate, creative listening…. makes the leader and the team stronger and more productive.

Here’s what Brenda Ueland has to say about listening, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that this one diamond-sharp observation changed my life:

“When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. Ideas actually begin to grow within us and come to life.”

As a coach, I began to listen more. And the more I did that, the more insights and breakthroughs occurred for my clients who were listened to in our sessions. This also changed my relationships with my wife, my children and my friends.

It later hit me that what’s good for the coach is also good for the client, especially when they were trying to lead.

When the leaders I coach have problems with their partners or direct reports or customers and clients or family members at home, they usually want me to help them create the right thing to say. Many a question in a coaching session would have the leader asking, “What should I say when…..?” Or, “How do I talk to her about….” Or, “What do you think I should tell him about…?”

Often I recommend to them that they do a listening session. Just go meet with the person and find out what they’re thinking. See what you might learn. If you really want to improve your relationship with someone in the company, go see if you can allow them to feel heard and understood.

~Steve Chandler, co-author with William Keiper, of The Leader and The Coach: The Art of Humanity in Leadership

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The Leader & The Coach by Steve Chandler & Will Keiper
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