It is almost a paradox, isn’t it, to lead by listening? A basic understanding would dictate that we listen when we want to be led, not when we do the leading. In a leadership role, however, listening takes on an added dimension that spans both concepts.

Learn & Connect

Ask yourself a question at the start of every conversation: How can this person help me achieve my own goals? It may seem selfish on the surface but that is the quintessential motivation behind our every decision. When you can train your mind to see each conversation as a potential for advancement, you are more likely to listen keenly.

That is the first step. As the conversation progresses, relate the ideas together. Seek out the speaker’s motivations and their perspectives. Each is an opportunity for them to hitch their wagon to yours, returning the favor from the step before.

Don’t Interrupt

Talking and listening are diametrically opposed—if you are doing one, you are not engaging in the other. It is remarkable how many people dislike being interrupted but so often engage in that very same practice.

No matter how important it may seem during a conversation to address a point immediately, wait. By allowing them to follow their train of thought, you not only give the speaker the respect they deserve but set a good ground rule for when you speak.

Don’t Judge

If you are judging, you are not really listening. This ties in with one of the most important values of good leaders—empathy. Individuals may have differing opinions or unusual styles of delivery but they ultimately are saying and/or doing things they believe work.

Limit your internal monologue as you listen, abandon preset notions, and be open to a change of perspective. If your opinions diverge, specify the element on which it does and seek a point of consensus for the road ahead.


Matching the speaker’s tone, mirroring their posture, and nodding all help to project your interest during a conversation. Follow it up with actual action after the conversation ends. This may be immediately after or in the form of a follow-up at a later date.

More than your physical actions during the conversation, a follow-up demonstrates to the speaker that their ideas were not just heard but considered. It proves that you gave their words merit and focused your energies on their input. In essence, a leader who listens is an inspiration. Their demeanor invites loyalty and inspires employees to go above and beyond. Those two factors are the lynchpins of business success.

Would you like more suggestions on how effectively listen and lead? Please contact me today.