The Power of Listening


Do people describe your leadership style as an active listener, or are you perceived as disinterested and aloof?

The most successful leaders are listeners. Listening empowers others in the organization to grow, take risks, and provide the leader with the widest angle of insight for important organizational decisions.

Leaders who actively listen, and who plan intentional strategies to listen, can do so more easily today than ever. Here are 4 easy ways to increase you listening and gain a truer perspective of what’s actually going on, or not going on, in your organization.

1. Establish an online survey which asks the right ‘listening’ questions. I use survey monkey. You can find mine here:

Would you recommend our service to your friends and  family?

In the world of public ed, leaders often don’t see themselves and their organizations through a marketplace lens. This paradigm is changing, as charter, cyber-charter, and for-profit school management groups grow in Pennsylvania.

2. Create a regular convening of your senior leadership. I hold a monthly, Forum of Senior Leaders, and let them set the agenda. I listen to their questions, concerns, and celebrations.

3. Be present in the workplace. It’s easy, especially for superintendents who are sometimes officed in a building separate from schools, to be perceived as aloof. Get out of the office and spend time among your staff…in their offices. Eat an impromptu lunch with different employee groups and ask lots of questions. Interrupt office discussions and join in conversations. Make yourself available to answer in the moment.

4. Create a culture where question asking is not just acceptable, but expected, of all employees regardless of rank. Organizations today must be innovative in order to have staying power. Innovation starts with the right questions. Leaders who don’t listen, don’t get asked many important questions.

What important questions have you been asked lately?

What important questions are you asking?

To whom are you listening?



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