Leadership, Listening, and Collaboration

an image of a man speaking and a reciprocal image of a man listening

To collaborate with others, resolve disputes, overcome conflicts, heal relationships, empathize with others, and lead effectively you have to listen. Listening actively is one of the three key components of The Collaboration Effect®. The collaboration effect is all about connecting relationships, listening actively, and educating judiciously in order to build bridges to negotiate closure. This commentary is focusing on listening and taking you to a higher level related to listening. In the text, The Collaboration Effect, chapter 6 is simply entitled, Listening Actively. As the author of this text, I indicate this chapter is the most important chapter in the book. It is with that perspective I want to take you to listening even better going forward by introducing you to two experts that focus strictly on listening.

Various blogs have been written on how to listen better with difficult people, how to actively listen in a negotiation, and how to lead with compassion and listen with empathy. To take you to a higher level I want to bring to your attention to the best book I have read on listening. That book is Listening Leaders: The Ten Golden Rules to Listen, Lead, and Succeed by Dr. Lyman K. Steil and Dr. Richard K. Bommelje.

What I particularly like about this text is how the authors break everything down into threes to help you recall what you need to do and then they finish it with an action statement. What follows is a brief outline of the process to set the stage and encourage you to explore how you too can enhance your own listening skills to bring you to a higher level. With enhanced listening skills you will be able to collaborate better with others and have improved relationships and results. The three stages in the text are presentation, principles, and practices. These three stages are identified it the text by A, B, and C, respectively, to help you remain focused that these three stages are at the highest level.


A. Presentation


The first stage is Presentation. Presentation starts with building a solid foundation. Just as in real life, without a solid foundation no building can stand, similarly the same is true with listening. It all starts with a firm foundation. Secondly, explore and execute the ASK model. ASK stands for attitude, skills, and knowledge. Think of this as an equal sided triangle with attitude on the base. Attitude is key. If you think you will not be able to accomplish the task or that you will be able to accomplish the task, the odds are fairly good either way that you will be right. The third element is developing impactful habits. As with any activity to become good at it means you have to develop habits to enhance your skill set. The authors provide ideas to develop impactful habits that you can apply immediately.


B. Principles


The second stage is Principles The first element associated with principles is for you to take primary responsibility to enhance your listening skills. Do not blame yourself or others. Rather take on this newly found responsibility and take ownership to listen better. This step is calling on you to decide to improve your listening skills. Secondly, find and align your purpose. Collaboration is all about working together to accomplish a goal. This implies you have a purpose or goal with someone or others. Similarly, with listening you have to have the purpose to listen actively. Finally, apply the SIER model. Think of this as a triangle leading to a point with Sensing on the bottom of a wide triangle, with next layer on top of Interpretation, followed by a third layer on top of Evaluation, leading to the top layer of Responding. These four layers build upon the information provided in earlier chapters. There is not enough space in this commentary to elaborate on this concept, but I see this as one of the chapters you need to read more fully and apply. These three elements are the keys to listening principles.


C. Practices


The third stage is Practices. Think of emails, phone calls, internet, social media, and office distractions. All of these take away form focus. The first element under practices is to identify and control distractions. The second element is to identify and use structure. If you apply structure to your listening skills, you will be able to apply your insights when interacting with others. Finally, identify and control emotions. One of the keys to emotional intelligence is for you to recognize, to understand, and to manage your emotions so that you can also influence others. It is not about me. It is all about we in a collaboration. However, it starts with you. You can make or break a collaboration by how you interact with others.

These three stages and nine golden rules lead to the tenth golden rule and that is to Take Meaningful Action! It is great to read and know what to do, but without action this information is just another nice to know commentary. Now it is up to you. You need to act constructively to in fact enhance your listening skills.

If you want to be a dynamic leader, who wants to be more proactive, positive, motivating, and engaging you need to listen actively. A tool has been presented for you to enhance your skills with listening. When you listen better you will be a better leader. As indicated at the beginning of this commentary, this write up is not for beginners, although beginners will appreciate the information too. Rather this text is for those that want to take listening actively to another level to be an even better leader going forward.

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at mg@mikegreg.com and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]