Listen Like a Leader

3 Habits to Ensure Success

In their book Primal Leadership, authors Daniel Goleman, Richard E. Boyatzis and Annie McKee, describe how varying leadership styles rely on listening skills for their effectiveness.

Visionary leaders listen to values held by individuals within the group, enabling them to explain their own goals for the organization in a way that wins support.

Coaching leaders listen one-on-one to employees, establish rapport and trust, and help employees help themselves in matters of performance and information gathering.

Affiliative leaders listen for employees’ emotional needs and strive to honor and accommodate those needs in the workplace.

Democratic leaders elicit ideas and participation by listening to everyone’s opinions and information.

In Seven Habits, Covey cites numerous examples of successful business deals and resolved workplace issues in pointing out the importance-and power-of empathic listening versus mechanical, or perfunctory, listening. He also acknowledges that it takes time and practice to become adept at listening empathically. Here are some tips for sharpening your listening skills.

Develop your curiosity. This helps with Covey’s suggestion: Seek first to understand. Genuine curiosity is felt by others and helps to open up their speech and your listening.

Pay attention to your listening. Replay conversations you’ve had and assess whether you listened well.

Seek feedback. Ask coworkers, employees, bosses, clients/customers and suppliers to assess your listening skills.

Listening better will reward you with an entirely new level of communication and problem-solving skills, for empathic listening requires the ability to see multiple points of view in any given situation.