Last night someone asked me what I thought was the most important characteristic of a great leader, and without hesitation or even deep reflection, I declared, “Listening.” There are many characteristics a great leaders needs to possess to actually be defined as a great leader but if I had to pick just one as the backbone, I’d definitely choose great listening skills.
Being a great listener is important even if we aren’t in a leadership role. And now, more than ever, with everything happening on Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and FaceTime, we need to be better at listening because many of the non-verbal queues we would usually pick up on are no longer available to us. Listening is the key part to effective communication and in doing so, we make people feel understood—which is arguably on oof the most important things we can do for another person.
So today, maybe we should all take a step back and think about listening better. I know I always need a reminder to be a better listener. Listening to hear and understand is quite different from listening to respond. Listening is active, not passive. We aren’t truly listening if we are doing something else, like looking at our cell phone. A great listener is 100% invested in the conversation. So that’s the question we need to ask ourselves today as we try to become better listeners, “Am I 100% invested?”