What makes a Leader?

Deep Listening

It is combination of many traits that makes a person, a leader in the real sense. In this issue we are highlighting one of the traits of leadership, 'Deep Listening'.

The big ear of reverred Ganeshjee is a symbol of 'Deep Listening'. But in spite of all such importance given to listening, it continues to be a neglected area in management, in parenting, or in our educational system. A very few organisation cover training on listening or undertake planned exercise for improving the listening skills of their employees.

We place here some of the views on this subject:

When Gandhi returned from South Africa, Tilak advised him to listen for one year and not to speak.

"Ironically, all through school, we were taught to read, write and speak, but never to listen, and the situation remains much the same today. Traditionally, Indian scientists have been very good speakers, but have inadequately developed listening skills."
- Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam President of India, Noted scientist and winner of Bharat Ratna

  • "I only wish I could find an institute that teaches people how to listen."
    - Lee Iacocca Ex President Ford, Ex-chairman Chrysler

  • "Leaders are capable of deep listening: Gandhi demonstrated that when he travelled throughout India learning the heart of his people".
    - Warren Bennis, Author on leadership - USA

    "As Wriston's responsibility broadened, he remembered what his father had told him about the willingness of people to spill their guts to an interested listener."
    Wriston would make his fair share of mistakes, but failing to listen to workers in the trenches would be the least of them.
    - Biographer of Walter Wriston Ex CEO-Citi Bank-America

    "Listening is one of the highest compliments we can pay anyone."
    - Dale Carnegie

    "Oppenheimer (physicist) was genuinely admired and respected by many academic colleagues. He was brilliant, versatile, a good conversationalist, a good listener."
    -Howard Gardner

    "The busy executive spends 80% of his time listening to people." (HBR)
    - Ralph G. Nichols and Leonard A. Stevens

    Active, empathetic, educated listening. Great leaders persuade others to move in a certain direction by coaching and by listening to others' reasoning. Active and empathetic listening is vital. Leaders earn the trust, support, and confidence of people by listening to them. By giving employees the chance to express their ideas, leaders enhance support for change.
    - Larreine Segil "Executive Excellence" Aug' 1999