“I used to be the answer man. Now I’ve learned to listen. It is amazing what you learn when you open your mind,” said Gary, chief financial officer of a U.S. firm.
As Gary explains, listening is a very powerful leadership strategy. When leaders are genuinely interested in what others are seeing, thinking, and feeling — not as a way to get buy-in, but because others have information and insights they need — they make better decisions. They break the cycle of endless repetition and predictable responses that slows real communication to a snail’s pace. And they are more likely to get the buy-in they seek, because true dialogue helps everyone see the merits of a plan. Indeed, every major breakthrough I have witnessed — where teams, colleagues, or customers and suppliers get on the same page — has happened when people took the time for more open, balanced, and reciprocal conversation.
So, what gets in the way?
In a new business post at strategy + business, Why Leaders Who Listen Achieve Breakthroughs, I take a deeper look at the outdated mental models that can inadvertently lead us to focus too much on our message, rather than true two-way conversation. For those who want to amp up their listening and initiate more effective conversations, I offer six practical strategies.
See what you think! I look forward to hearing your thoughts or reflections.
All the best,