Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who made you feel like you were the only one on earth? The way they focused and concentrated on everything you had to communicate? How did you really feel at the time? Understood I guess. Some famous leaders heralded for their great listening skills include Bill Clinton, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey and Richard Branson.
Let no one deceive you into believing that being heard is more important than hearing. The first rule in communication is to seek understanding before seeking to be understood.
In Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the fifth Habit is “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” He pointed out that the society has placed much emphasis on teaching us how to read, write, and speak, but doesn’t prepare us to really listen to others.
Take a moment to reflect on any great leader you know, you’ll realize they are very adept at reading between the lines. They have the uncanny ability to understand what is not being said, heard, or seen. Attending a class at the Olusola Lanre Coaching Academy, I learned from Africa’s Premier Life Coach, Lanre Olusola, (The Catalyst) that good listeners don’t listen to answer but to understand, and that great listeners are not listening for words but the tone and body language. That is empathetic listening; absorbing and feeling the conversation.
According to renowned entrepreneur and CEO of Virgin Group, Richard Branson, “We have two ears and one mouth, using them in proportion is not a bad idea! To be a good leader you have to be a great listener”. In this age of dominant technology and instant messaging everyone seems to be eager to share what’s on their mind, failing to realize the value of more that can be gleaned from the minds of others. Everyone wants to talk to someone. Employees are willing to pour out their heart but oftentimes, employers are not willing to hear them. Majority of these bosses are only concerned about employee performance on the job, forgetting that only a right mind can do a job right.
Indeed, listening is one of the most underrated leadership skill that has the capacity to transform a leader’s performance and efficiency if well maximized. Show me a leader who doesn’t understand the value of listening to others and I’ll show you a man on his way to doom.
Photo Credit: TY Bello
About the Writer
Olukotun Gideon Olushola is a certified Life Coach, Writer and Motivational Speaker with a specialized focus on Leadership, Productivity and Management. He works with individuals and organizations to help them achieve their goals, increase efficiency, and take the lead through a result-driven process and systematic approach.