It’s impossible to listen in a noisy room. If you want to listen to your breathing, you need silence. You can’t listen in busy-ness mode; we hear lots of things, we listen to few.
Listening to music through your earphones when walking around is more hearing the music than listening to it.
We hear other people, we hear the CEO, we hear the news, we hear our team members, we hear complaints, we hear people suffering. It does not follow that we listen to any of them.
Listening is becoming a rare quality. It requires active willingness to do it.
There are four magic questions for leaders about listening: (1) What am I saying? (2) Am I being heard? (3) Is anybody listening? (4) How do I know any of the above? In The Leader with Seven Faces, one of my books and the basis for my Leadership Programmes, language is face number one. The above questions are key leadership’s hearing aids.
Listening is sometimes an anxious request! Listen to me! Would you listen! One of the oldest Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and Leadership Manuals in the world is The Rule of Saint Benedict, written in the 6th Century for monks in monasteries, although there were other similar Rules even before. For centuries, it has inspired religious and non-religious life. It caters for all needs in the community and provides guidance and ‘solutions’ to potential problems. Still today this Rule, with its modern adaptation, is in place in all Benedictine communities around the world. Benedict of Nursia, patron saint of Europe, wrote his Rule in ordinary Latin. It has a Prologue and seventy-three chapters, not bad for an SOP! The Rule starts with one single latin word, on its own: ‘Ausculta’, that is, Listen!
Perhaps he did anticipate modern organizational life.