I’ve met, observed, and worked with hundreds of leaders — only a couple dozen or so who I’ve considered to be extraordinary. While they’ve differed considerably in their leadership and personal styles, there is one skill that they all had in common: The ability to listen — to really listen.
I don’t mean the ability to hear what others say, but rather to really listen, to be in the moment and fully receptive both to what is being said as well as to the context.
An exceptional leader told me last week that listening on a phone call is not as effective because in person he can see body language and other clues that enable him to look past symptoms and ‘red herrings’ to get directly to the essence of an issue.
To listen well, you need to have an open mind. Set aside the filters that cause you to hear what you want to hear, or what you think is being said, or to make judgments while listening. And pay full attention to what is being said…and not said.