Listening is a leadership gift. It costs nothing but promises great opportunity to effect change. As busy leaders, our temptation is to give advice. But listening can bring about a more positive response. As a person is heard, his or her story unfolds. We ask clarifying questions, but it is in the mind of the speaker that new paths and deeper meanings are discovered. Peter Block suggests, “Listening creates the speaker.”1 What brings about change is not my advice but their unfolding story. A working motto for leadership might be, as John Collins recalls2, be less interesting and more interested.
1Peter Block (2008). Community: The Structure of Belonging. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, p. 69.
2Jim Collins (2005). Good to Great and the Social Sectors. HarperCollins), author’s note.