Recommitting to the Fundamental Practice of Listening
In every discipline, mastering fundamental skills and actions allows performers to leapfrog to new heights and prowess. The fundamentals serve as the core and foundational routines from which more complex tactics can be perfected. Without a firm grasp of the fundamentals, success is fleeting, as performers have nothing to fall back upon when execution unexplainably suffers.
Practicing the fundamentals of any game, sport, work, or performance never ends. For the best performers, they return time and again to the fundamentals as the means to solidify what matters most.
Even the most accomplished athletes, musicians, and other skilled performers spend the majority of their time recommitting to the fundamentals and practicing them to the point of perfection.
For leaders, one fundamental action stands above all others and can never be overlooked. Listening is the fundamental skill of everything in leadership and it requires a tremendous amount of practice to keep the faculty sharp.
Someone smart once described three goals leaders can pursue when they listen to others:
They can listen to agree.
They can listen to disagree.
Or they can listen to be with.
Leaders who listen to be with understand the power of listening to galvanize relationships. More than understanding or obtaining new information, the best leaders know they are in the business of getting others to feel heard. Nothing is more fundamental to leadership than the act of validating others through listening.
Fully attending to others, turning off the need to judge, and spending the time to be with others takes considerable practice. The good news is that just about everyone enjoys being listened to, so every conversation throughout the day is ripe for practice. Recommitting to the fundamental skill of listening is what the best leaders do to prepare for everything else. May the listening force be with you.