The two most valuable tools for fostering the growth of others are questions and listening. Questions are the expressive, probing language for growing others; listening is the receptive, facilitating language for growing others. These two complementary approaches form a continuous growth conversation loop. The deeper the questions, the deeper the listening; the deeper the listening, the deeper the next question. As we mutually dig together with each tool, we mutually excavate new discoveries. As a result, the learning is never one-sided; it is a co-created process that engenders empathy, trust,and collaboration.
Research confirms that a startling 67 percent of new leaders in organizations fail within 18 months. Why? Lack of listening. Why do teams usually break down? Poor listening. There are three common pitfalls that inhibit people from stepping back for authentic listening:
- Listening Pitfall 1: Hyper Self-Confidence. When we see ourselves as the quintessential expert, the most experienced or accurate person in the room, we position ourselves to fall into a listening black hole. The kiss of death for collaboration, connection and innovation, is moving too quickly to our own perceived “right” answer. Slow down, and challenge yourself to pause and to listen a few minutes longer to move from transaction or hyper-action to transformation.
- Listening Pitfall 2: Impatience and Boredom.When conversations or meetings don’t reflect our point of view or are not intellectually challenging enough, we may get impatient or bored. If we are too caught up in our judgmental self-conversation, we can never really genuinely listen and hear what is going on around us. Fight your impatience and boredom by looking deeper. Pause to question: What are they seeing and understanding that I don’t see? What are the beliefs underneath what is being said?
- Listening Pitfall 3: Bias for Action. Sometimes listening is challenging because we want to do something, not just hear about it. Our hyperactive impulses derive from our certainty that we know the solution and reactively want to implement it. However, as a senior leader, when facing a complexity and/or a maturing team, it isn’t always optimal to rush in with the answers, unintentionally creating dependency, stunting the growth of others and sacrificing transformative breakthroughs. Pause a bit longer to let groups struggle and strain more as they explore ideas, options and deeper solutions. Listen to how they are collaborating, resolving conflict and problem solving