When it comes to … SUSTAINABLE COMPARATIVESTRATEGIC ADVANTAGE … there is nothing but nothing but nothing that compares with … EXCELLENCEINSTRATEGIC LISTENING. Period.
“My education in leadership began in Washington when I was an assistant to Defense Secretary William Perry. He was universally loved and admired by heads of state … and our own and allied troops. A lot of that was because of the way he listened. Each person who talked to him had his complete, undivided attention. Everyone blossomed in his presence, because he was so respectful, and I realized I wanted to affect people the same way.
“Perry became my role model but that was not enough. Something bigger had to happen, and it did. It was painful to realize how often I just pretended to hear people. How many times had I barelyglanced up from my work when a subordinate came into my office? I wasn’t paying attention; I was markingtime until it was my turn to give orders. That revelation led me to a new personal goal. I vowed to treat every encounter with every person on Benfold (Abrashoff was the Captain) as the most important thing at that moment. It wasn’t easy, but my crew’s enthusiasm and ideas kept me going.
“It didn’t take me long to realize that my young crew was smart, talented and full of good ideas that usually came to nothing because no one in charge had ever listened to them. … I decided that my job was to listen aggressively …” —Mike Abrashoff, It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy
Mike Abrashoff is one the most pursued “management gurus.” His approach to effectively commanding a U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer is admired far and wide. Among the primary tactics he used was “aggressive listening” —not exactly the norm for ship captains, or, for that matter, most managers.
Tweets on Listening/November 2011
Hustle essential. But remember to routinely take-make the time to engage people at a personal level about professional issues-opportunities.
People are on to you! They are able in a flash to discern that even though you asked a question you are not tuned in to their response.
If you ask a question and don't ask 2 or 3 follow up questions,
odds are you weren't listening to the answer.
If you are "listening" and in your mind preparing your response,
then, duh, you aren't listening!
I grew up near railroad crossings. As kids we had drummed into us, "Stop. Look. Listen." Bosses should religiously heed this advice!
You must introduce a core training course in listening. Label it "Fundamentals of execution." Execution hinges on listening—
It’s not a solo act.
Listening is a purposeful act requiring effort and 100% attention.
There’s nothing casual or automatic about it.
Listening is expensive. It's just that the alternative is far more expensive.
*8 of 10 sales presentations fail *50% failed sales presentations … talking “at” before listening! —Susan Scott, “Let Silence Do the Heavy Lifting,” chapter title, Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life, One Conversation at a Time
If you agree with the above, shouldn’t listening be ... perhaps Core Value #1?* (*“We are Effective Listeners—we treat Listening EXCELLENCE as the Centerpiece of our Commitment to Respect and Engagement and Community and Growth.”)
If you agree, shouldn’t listening be ... a Core Competence?
If you agree, shouldn’t listening be ... Core Competence #1?
If you agree, shouldn’t listening be ... an explicit “agenda item” at every Meeting?
If you agree, shouldn’t listening be ... our Strategy—per se? (Listening = Strategy.)
If you agree, shouldn’t listening be ... the #1 skill we look for in Hiring (for every job)?
If you agree, shouldn’t listening be ... the #1 attribute we examine in our Evaluations?
If you agree, shouldn’t listening be ... the #1 skill we look for in Promotion decisions?
If you agree, shouldn’t listening be ... the #1 Training priority at every stage of everyone’s career—from Day #1 to Day LAST?
If you agree, what are you going to do about it ... in the next 30 MINUTES?
If you agree, what are you going to do about it ... at your NEXT meeting?
If you agree, what are you going to do about it ... by the end of the DAY?
If you agree, what are you going to do about it ... in the next 30 DAYS?
If you agree, what are you going to do about it ... in the next 12 MONTHS?
Suggested Core Value #1: “We are Effective Listeners—we treat Listening EXCELLENCE as the Centerpiece of our Commitment to Respect and Engagement and Community and Growth.”
Trevor Gay: “I once had a boss who regularly asked me, ‘Have you given your team a good listening
to lately?’ ”
LISTEN = “PROFESSION” = STUDY = PRACTICE = EVALUATION = ENTERPRISE VALUE
Listening can be studied and practiced to the same extent and in the same fashion as learning to play the piano or cello.