I heard Richard Branson on the Diane Rehm show, and he spoke about something extremely important for successful leadership: listening. I find Branson’s comments on listening to be spot-on:
“I think not enough business leaders know the art of listening. They love to hear their own voices. And I was fortunate to learn from a young age that other people — by listening to other people, you learn an awful lot more than by listening to yourself.” — Richard Branson
From my experience, listening is a lost art. This holds true particularly for leaders and entrepreneurs.
Why don’t leaders listen? Though Branson jokes that they love to hear their own voices, there are two main reasons. For one, we are never taught how to carefully listen. And secondly, society sets leaders and entrepreneurs up to be expected to have all the answers.
In this clip from my interview with Cornell University, I talk about the three levels of listening, and how leaders can develop relationships and trust if they are able to use all three. I also talk about how important it is for leaders to ask questions. Asking and listening go hand in hand.
Do you you find that you are good at fully listening to others? Is listening a challenge for you? I’d love to hear your ideas about why listening may be difficult for leaders. Also, if you have experience working on your listening skills, let us know what steps you have taken. Please share in the comment section below, send me an email, or find me on Twitter.