Eve Annunziato

Can you hear me now? March 10, 2008

Filed under: Leadership — Eve Annunziato @ 1:15 pm

“When you ask people about the best leader they ever had, one quality is always mentioned – they are good listeners. Test the power of listening for yourself by taking time to listen and focus on others.” Ken Blanchard

Have you ever felt as if your supervisors were listening but didn’t hear a word you said? Ah, then I must have been your manager at some point in the past! Well, at least I could have. In all honesty, this has been one of my greatest leadership challenges. This is a discipline I deliberately pursue. At times, I think everything I have to say is so very urgent – and I mean EVERYTHING! After all, I don’t have time to listen; I have important tasks to complete, deadlines to meet and emails to write! I sometimes get so preoccupied with my own thoughts and so focused handing orders and direction out – that I miss out. Getting too busy to hear what others on my team have to say results in missed opportunities in capturing the full vision and potential of my team members and making true connections and relationships with them.

The truth is – I don’t learn unless I listen. Listening lets people know they are important. Asking questions makes them feel as though their opinions count. “Shutting up” enables us to discover diverse points of view from others. Authentically, genuinely and earnestly becoming immensely interested is what my team has to say, both personally and professionally, allows me to grow and develop into a mature and effective leader.

In his book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Marshall Goldsmith writes, “80% of our success in learning from other people is based upon how well we listen. In other words, success or failure is determined before we do anything.”

Goldsmith calls listening the one skill that separates the great from the near-great. So, what are the stories your key players are sharing? What creative ideas are flowing from their sudden brainstorms? What barriers are preventing you from creating authentic relationships? Learning about their likes, philosophy, and daily walk, enables you to assemble fellowship amongst your team. It not only elevates the growth and development of the people in your organization; it also forms unwavering community in the work place.

Put people before paper. In other words, drop what you’re doing and take a few minutes to spark the conversation, listen to the funny story, the family crisis, the creative burst of energy and create an atmosphere open to others’ ideals. For just a few deliberate moments, forget the responsibilities on your to-do list, and open your ears to people’s lives, ideas, and discerning words of wisdom.

As Christians, we’ve been taught to listen to God. But I once read a devotion that teaches that Jesus is known as “The Listener” because He invites us to share with him our prayers, our requests, our hopes and our dreams. After all, often before Jesus responds, He first listens to our heart. Before we respond to our team players, first we need to listen to their thoughts about anything – about everything. So I challenge you to ask yourself are your team players screaming, “Can you hear me now?”

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6 Responses to “Can you hear me now?”

  1. bennyinny Says:

    There is a great mix of thoughts in this blog. And I must tell you that I have read it a few times today, each time it sparked new thoughts (lots of Hmmms and Ahas in there) and each time I learned more.

    The reason god gave us two ears and one mouth was specifically for the purpose of us listening twice as much as we talk, whether we lead or follow.

    Great leaders listen to their people, and I agree sometimes there just is not enough time in the day.

    I actually recently wrote a blog that detailed ten positive traits of great leaders and ten negative traits of failed leaders, perhaps it is something you or your readers could learn from.

    http://yattitude.wordpress.com/2008/03/06/ya-ttitude-on-leadership/

    One of the “policies” I have created for myself, which allows me to listen, even when I am short on time is a weekly review email. I initially “encouraged” my people to end their week with a week in review email to be sent to me. Now it is something that is a way of life for companies I work with and consult with. This way I am “listening” to everything that is going on – no matter how short time is. And then time is made every week to go over the “week in review” emails. Usually a Tuesday morning meeting takes care of the “teams” emails, followed by a later in the day meeting to go over all the issues with Upper Management.

    This way I am listening, and they are listening and when we are all listening – things get better “automatically!”

    But just listening is not enough – you must act upon what you are hearing. Whether that is a sympathetic shoulder or a new policy – they key to “listening” is reacting and deciding to react.

    Ben

    Yattitude.wordpress.com

  2. Pete Wilson Says:

    Great stuff Eve. What I like most about this advice is that I’ve watched you model this in your life. You have pushed the paper to the side to listen to me several times and I’m a better person for it.

  3. Bud Press Says:

    Hi Eve:

    Speaking of Ken Blanchard, you may be interested in reading this article: http://www.christianresearchservice.com/KenBlanchard9.htm .

    Things aren’t always the way they seem…

  4. jodycakes Says:

    Eve,
    I think to set the ‘papers aside’ and listen is brilliant. I find that by looking deep into someone’s eyes, genuinely interested goes much further than superficial acknowledgement.
    Thank you for a very purposeful blog
    Jody

  5. Cathy Wohlberg - Craig Says:

    Eve –
    I love what you are saying – Sadly in this day and age we do not listen as we should. The world around is is very loud and screaming at us all daily. If only we just stopped, slowed down and listened more instead of quickly reacting and responding.
    It is imperative as a leader and a business person to not only listen to your team but listen to your clients. If you can master this skill you will create loyalty both from your team but from clients as well. Everyone wants to be heard but it takes skill to be silent and respectful and just listen.

    Great words
    Cheers – Cathy
    http://www.wheresmydamnanswer.wordpress.com

  6. lindaloohoo Says:

    Hi Eve,
    I think this is a message that cannot be stressed enough. So many times you can tell people are just waiting for you to stop speaking so they can start. How annoying is that?!
    I had a job that was service oriented and people pulled me in many different directions. I specifically remember one time my coworker was trying to get my attention while I was on the phone, on the computer and shuffling papers on my desk. I ended the phone conversation, turned and with one hand completely swept everything off my desk – stacks of papers, my in box, my out box, pens, pencils, framed photo’s – everything went onto the floor. Then I quietly put my folded hands on my desk, faced my stunned coworker and said ‘What was that Keith? I’m listening, tell me what you need.’ While being hysterically funny and we were both rolling laughing, it was so LIBERATING to do that!! Everyone should try this at least once to see how satisfying it feels 🙂
    Thanks for putting this great message out there – hopefully people are listening . . .
    Linda


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