Of all the habits I’ve observed, listening is one of the most valuable skills of a masterful leader, along with simply being quiet. Breakthroughs at meetings cannot occur if a leader is talking nonstop. Resolutions among smart people who are passionate about their work cannot occur if they don’t all have a way to voice their point of view. With the calm, powerful force of great leaders, dynamic energy can be released to drive an enterprise forward into sustainable success. Balancing the need for decisions with the many benefits of patience, effective leaders behave in such a way to light the path for their people
In Facebook’s early formative years, CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s ability to listen was one of his greatest strengths. Jim Breyer, one of Silicon Valley’s most well known venture capitalists, said that this skill is what set Zuckerberg apart from his peers. Breyer sat across from many entrepreneurs who would be all about their own output, not thoughtfulness. It’s clear that Zuckerberg’s ability to listen to mentors, employees, and customers has been worthwhile. Today the company is valued at over $400 billion.
Communication genius is marked by effective listening, which has many forms:
- Ask astute questions
- Consciously choose to be open-minded
- Do not interrupt
- Ask for and welcome suggestions
- Seek to understand other points of view
Mastering our resistance to hearing what others think, feel, and need helps us to become exceptional listeners. Listening is among the most frequently taught business skills, and possibly the skill most difficult to master.
It’s easy to start here and now. In your next interaction, try giving your undivided attention and listen to understand, not just to respond. Making this part of our regular interactions can improve our relationships, boost our effectiveness, and transform our endeavors.