Leading Through Listening


Why hire talented people and not fully utilize them?


Can we fully utilize the people we hire if we’re not listening to them?


Listening is an important leadership responsibility that rarely appears in the job description.  Yet the higher up the corporate ladder, the more critical listening well becomes.


In fact, executives are reported to spend as much as 80% of their day listening.

Those who listen well to their employees are in a much better position to lead an increasingly diverse workforce, in an increasingly changing marketplace.


Listening skills underlie most leadership functions: developing teams, making informed decisions, problem-solving, and meeting customers’ needs.


The best leaders are both proactive and strategic in their listening. As a leader, you want to know what your team knows, what they are thinking, what’s stumping them, and how they’re adapting (or not) to challenges.


That requires asking open-ended questions such as, “What is your biggest challenge currently?” Or, “Can you think of two ways we could improve X?” Or, “How can I best support you as we complete this project?”


Listening well makes leaders effective because they can:


  • Anticipate potential problems and proactively address them.
  • Overcome performance slumps by giving timely, informed advice via feedback and coaching.
  • Stimulate creativity and gather ideas.
  • Allow employees to feel heard and supported, building trust and loyalty. A staff that feels appreciated willingly does more than is expected.


If you are leading a team, be sure you are also listening to your team. Ensure they feel understood, valued and heard.


Nothing beats face-to-face communication with your employees, and the Forté suite of products can be a strategic tool in your listening effectiveness. Forté’s on-going adapting updates can indicate when it may be time to sit down for a one-to-one conversation.


Forté will also teach you, their leader, how to best communicate with each individual team member—based on their strengths and motivators—during your interactions, allowing you to draw out the potential in your team.


Call or email The Forté Institute today to explore how we can help you develop a proactive listening strategy, and keep your finger on the pulse of your team.


The Forté Institute’s Rachel Olsen is a Communication Studies faculty member at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is a communication specialist and a trained and certified coach.