Leading by Listening

On our Leading Agile Teams course, we teach leaders how to actively listen. This sometimes raises questions – how am I leading if I’m just listening to what the other person says, never giving my own opinions or advice or even steering the conversation to any direction?

I’m not even focusing this time on how much better to the other side of the conversation it can be if you keep listening instead of talking. We’ll actually discuss that a lot on our course. But I want to emphasize that listening is actually much more beneficial to yourself, too. Mike Myatt has written an excellent summary on the Power of Listening already a while ago. I encourage you to check it out.

I think the main point for people who fear that they are giving away their power if they are listening instead of talking is summarized well in this paragraph:

Want to become a better leader? Stop talking and start listening. Being a leader should not be viewed as a license to increase the volume of rhetoric. Rather astute leaders know there is far more to be gained by surrendering the floor than by dominating it. In this age of instant communication everyone seems to be in such a rush to communicate what’s on their mind, they fail to realize the value of everything that can be gleaned from the minds of others. Show me a leader who doesn’t recognize the value of listening to others and I’ll show you a train-wreck in the making.

If just thinking about the power, consider who has more power in the situation: the person who knows everything about what the other person thinks, or the person who has told all his thoughts to the other person but knows nothing about what the other person thinks?

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