Sunday, January 27, 2008

Strategic Leadership Listening - The Racer's Edge

Most of a manager and leader's day is spent communicating. What are the tools we can take along to help us successfully navigate our course?

On Your Mark, Get Set
Unlike this page before it was printed, the listing adult mind is never blank or completely impartial. Our listening is influenced by events, relationships and experiences - all adding to what we hear, and changing the meaning. As objective as we would like to think we are, in our listening we are actually not.

We are also subject to the effects of our physical and emotional states. Being tired, angry, elated or stressful predisposes us to selectively attend to what we hear. These two forces - history plus emotional stress - make up our "listening set" at any point in the day.

The Navigator
Try to recall a recent situation where you were a listener. It may have been a speech delivered by an executive, a discussion with a subordinate or an explanation from a peer. Did you listen to facts or to specific words? Did you paraphrase these words in our mind? Did this lead to new impressions, feelings, and ideas? Where you affected by how the speaker stood, her low voice or his tan suit?

Did his anger bother you? Where you evaluating the speaker's effectiveness as a communicator? Were you judging? Or were you so preoccupied with your own problems that you didn't listen at all? It's impossible to attend to everything we hear, so we listen selectively.

But what guides our listening? It isn't the same for everyone; for example, individuals who hear the same speech often walk away with different impressions of what they heard. Obviously, they didn't "hear" the same thing.

The Untrained Navigator
We hear only one seventh as fast as we think - about one unit of hearing to five units of thinking. Obviously, the mind as the opportunity and the time to construct questions, inferences, assumptions and associations as we listen. But... are we using this time wisely?

Traditionally, ineffective listening has been viewed as a hearing problem. However, s we gain important new information about the effects of this uniquely human process - called listening - on the effectiveness of an organization, we can recognize that ineffective listening is a management problem.

In our next blog we'll consider some of these common types of listening behavior in business.
  • Noise In the Attic Listening
  • Face Value Listening
  • Position Listening
  • Precision listening
As we master our listening states, we become powerful navigators of the future..... our future.

Judith E. Glaser is the Author of two best selling business books: Creating WE: Change I-Thinking to We-Thinking & Build a Healthy Thriving Organization - winner of the Bronze Award in the Leadership Category of the 2008 Axiom Business Book Awards, and The DNA of Leadership; and the DVD and Workshop titled The Leadership Secret of Gregory Goose

Contact: 212-307-4386 -


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