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Leader as Listener

Fierce Ideas (blue lightbulb)

(From left to right: Andy King, Blake Harris, and Stacey Engle from Fierce, Inc. at SITE 2013)

Fierce is currently at the Society of Insurance Trainers & Educators 2013 Conference in Portland, OR. We are extremely honored to be with the amazing people here digging into topics like culture building, generational gaps, and informal learning.

We have blogged about listening in the past, and I wanted to share some insight from yesterday's keynote at the conference. Kevin Toth's keynote Who's in the Center? Leader as Listener was filled with insights and challenges to becoming a better leader by focusing on being present and open to other's perspectives and ideas.

From Kevin's talk, here are three tips to listen more effectively:

1. Talk less. This is a necessary first step. I love the tongue and cheek component of this, and it is so true. We need to make a conscious effort to talk less, if our goal is really to concentrate more on listening. This is a challenging component for some. Take a pause before you speak and if after the moment passes, you still feel your thought will contribute to the other's point of view, then go ahead and share.

2. Pay attention to your questions-to-statements ratio. Kevin suggests, as a leader, to pay attention to the ratio of the questions you ask and the statements you make. Challenge yourself to ask more questions. If curiosity is a core piece of being a successful leader, it is essential that you ask thought-provoking, meaningful questions. Think about being a coach rather than advice giver.

3. Savor the pause. This tip aligns with fierce, because one of the seven principles of a fierce conversations is: Let silence do the heavy lifting. As Susan Scott wrote, "There are insights and emotions that can find you in no other way than through and within silence." When in silence, do not think about what you are going to say next, be present in the moment.

How can you improve your listening?


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