Leaders Listen to Understand ...

One of the most important leadership skills we teach at St. Francis is the skill of “listening.” But, what does that really mean?

Heralded 7 Habits author and consultant, Dr. Stephen Covey, says this, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

In short, true “listening” means that we seek to understand, not wait to speak.

Listening is dedication to someone else. It is a tribute to their value as a person. It requires us to set aside our own time, thoughts, beliefs and motives. Listening also requires effort, the effort to be open-minded and to view things from someone else’s perspective. Simply put, in seeking to understand the focus is “others-centered”. In waiting to speak, the focus is “self-centered.”

Since we know that leadership is influence it is clear that true leaders must listen to understand, for it is only through understanding that a leader can have real influence. This will be essential for our students to know as well. You cannot have influence when you talk “over”, “at”, or “around” someone. You can only have influence when you talk “with” someone. And, to talk “with” someone you must understand them, which requires dedication and effort. It requires a focus on others, not self.

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. Proverbs 18:2