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Why Listening Is Key To Leadership Growth

Updated: Jul 19, 2022

I’m working with a client because he has a different operating style from his boss. He’s an exemplary employee and one of the most valuable leaders of the organization; however, he struggles to work effectively with his boss.

Photo: Courtesy of Wix Media

So, I asked him:

  • What does your boss want?

  • What would it take for your boss to leave meetings with you with a spring to his step, and really excited about the interaction, because it was a beneficial and fulfilling meeting?

  • What would it take for your boss to want to meet with you?

  • What would you need to do so your boss can’t wait, is excited the night before because he knows it’s going to be a phenomenal meeting?

  • What will you change so that your boos views interacting with you as uplifting and advantageous for him?

My client responded that he didn’t know. He said he’d have to do some thinking on it. While thoughtfully considering these questions is a critical exercise for every leader, there’s one important exercise he’d overlooked—listening. The truth is he needed to do more asking and listening. He can ask colleagues, other leaders, ask different people, and above all, ask his boss.

When I made this suggestion, he replied, “Wow, I guess I should.”

It’s so simple that it’s often forgotten. Asking and listening attentively is how you unearth communication gold. It’s how you build and maintain positive relationships. To be clear, active listening is not thinking about what you’re going to say next while the other person is talking. It’s also not letting your mind wander to other places, including what’s for lunch. It’s also not allowing the conversation to take a detour where you lose control of the goal of your communication. Instead, active listening means making a conscious effort to tune into content and nuances of communication, giving enough time between the speaker’s final word and your first. It also means that you make good eye contact and are solely focused on what is being said. And it involves allowing the comments of the speaker to guide the clarifying and sequential questions you ask.

When you are a good listener, people are naturally drawn to you.

I suggested that my client approach his boss and say, “I have been doing some reflecting. And to enhance the work we do together I thought it would be helpful if you and I meet and discuss how I could be more valuable to you." Then set a time to make it happen and come prepared with questions. Be ready to ask questions that illicit from your boss what they want and don't want to feel even more successful in their role. And listen.

Listening is an integral step up the leadership ladder. It’s also a critical skill for creating your best life.

Renwick Brutus' career has spanned roles as research economist, investment advisor, entrepreneur and consultant. He holds an MBA from Fordham University and has been recognized for his outstanding achievement in sales and business leadership. Today, Renwick applies his unique blend of business strategy and interpersonal skills to help individuals prosper and companies grow. He owns multiple companies and is in great demand to consult with business leaders. Contact him by email and LinkedIn .

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