Are you listening and learning?

Listening may be one of the most important habits of effective leaders. Much of the advice about listening focuses on eliminating distractions and quieting yourself. Certainly good listeners are not constantly interrupting or critiquing the speaker. But researchers are finding that the best listeners go beyond passively nodding or wrapping up the conversation with a summary of what was said. Great listeners ask key questions that push the conversation further and facilitate learning. They may even gently, constructively challenge key assumptions to encourage joint discovery.

In a recent interview with Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman, she highlighted listening and learning as critical to her success in every area of business from understanding customers to harnessing technology and change.

  • Customers: careful listening allows you to understand how their environment is changing and how that change creates challenges and opportunities. You have a much better chance of delivering what you will need next, if you listen and learn their business.
  • Partners: for nearly every firm, technology is changing business. Understanding that change requires listening to partners. For Nasdaq, that means spending time in Silicon Valley listening to startups, tech innovators, and venture firms.
  • Employees: leading the organization through needed change requires listening to employee fears and helping them move from fear to excitement.

Watch my interview with Adena to hear more on the value of listening and key leadership lessons from her career. We also cover her thoughts on exciting new technologies like blockchain and the challenges of cybersecurity.

Leadership Notes is a blog and video series on leadership.  Through interviews with leaders from both the private and public sector, Johnson examines key leadership issues like empowerment, team development, and cultural dexterity.  The blog also addresses topics such as learning from failure, the importance of friendship, and the role leaders play in developing organizational culture.

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