I had a client who was with me for about three years. A senior leader in a high profile position, well respected, making lots of money, doing well by anyone’s standards. Including her own.
But she had hired a coach because she knew she had more to learn about being a better leader. About raising her own bar to a level she was having trouble reaching and maintaining. She recognized that although she had always thought of herself as a good boss and a respected colleague, that a recent 360 assessment had pointed to her less than stellar listening skills. This kind of surprised her. But she was brave enough to look more closely at the kind of listening she was doing.
A few weeks later, she said to me during one of our coaching sessions;
“I think for me, the importance of listening is not to reply but to understand.”
She went on to tell me how the kind of listening she was pretty darn good at, involved her replying to her colleague or staff member…. But was she actually understanding what they were expressing? Maybe not as much as she wished.
So she worked on shifting her mindset, from listening in order to respond, to listening to simply understand.
Sounds like a simple shift. Simple but maybe not so easy.
Over time she became a much different and in her mind, better listener.
She noticed the shift in what she was paying attention to.
Her colleagues noticed an improvement in her level of presence, which translated into how respectful she was as a leader.
And so she continued down her road of being a better leader, one step at a time. Starting with understanding the importance of listening. Allowing herself to see the nuances. Offering herself a chance to step into a new way of demonstrating the qualities of the respected leader she was becoming.