Views on listening

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Shirley Wardell is a Leadership Foundation associate, and she works on the Research Team and Future Leader’s programmes. In this first of a series of blog posts Shirley will be sharing insights from the results of a survey on the participants of the 50 Research Team Leadership programme that have taken place throughout higher education over the past 8 years. Shirley has been a ‘Thinking Environment ®’ coach and consultant since 1997.

Ernesto Sirolli says: ‘Want to really help someone? Shut up and listen!’ He based this view on how seven years of abject failure in international aid programmes were turned around by listening, by tapping into local passion and by respecting their vision and intelligence. Ernesto’s leadership inspires us to ask participants on the Leadership Foundation’s Research Team Leadership (RTL) programme; ‘How do you feel when someone listens to you really well?’ We ask this question because we know the value of listening in leadership and we want to establish if our participants value being listened to.

Listening to people helps them to think in a different way to when they think quietly alone. The listener somehow adds another dimension, which breaks through the speaker’s previous thought patterns and creates new reflections. Listening builds trusting and supportive relationships; which according to Daniel Goleman, makes change possible. Paul Brown and Virginia Brown contend that brain sciences are indicating that effectiveness is determined by the quality of relationships possible within a system.

Julian Treasure says; ‘Listening is our access to understanding.’ He encourages us to listen intentionally and to try different listening positions trying ‘active’ versus ‘passive;’ ‘reductive’ versus ‘responsive’ and ‘critical’ versus ‘empathetic’ and to notice what happens to the person you are listening to. Listening has a purpose and the style of listening needs to be adapted to the purpose.

On RTL we ask for; ‘profound listening.’ This type of listening is rare and its purpose is to help people think for themselves. Undivided attention is the corner stone of Nancy Kline’s ‘Thinking Environment®’. Nancy believes that the most important thing a leader can do is to create the conditions for excellence in thinking. Excellence in actions, results and research follow excellence in thinking.

The ongoing demands and changes to higher education require Research Leaders to think like never before. Over the next few months I will describe and review the top ten ways RTL participants feel when they are listened to. Some of the words participants have used are; appreciated, confident, creative, respected and energised; these feelings have a beneficial impact on the performance of these Research Leaders. Over the next 10 months I will discuss how being listened to benefits the contributions a Research Team Leader makes to their team.

Follow Shirley Wardell @EvolveLeadteam

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3 thoughts on “Views on listening

  1. Pingback: Views on Listening: apreciated | LFHEblog

  2. Pingback: Views on Listening: empathy | LFHEblog

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