Learning To Listen

Learning To Listen: The 'Paradox Of Potential' Solution

“What is the best business advice you ever received?” is a question I am asked nearly every day. It is an interesting question but one that can be challenging to answer with clarity and certainty. After all, I have always aggressively pursued and been fortunate to receive advice, information and feedback from many people during my corporate and entrepreneurial careers.

Is it possible to synthesize, filter or otherwise narrow down all that information into a single piece of advice? A recent experience I had allows me to emphatically answer “yes!”

I was a guest on Thom Singer’s podcast “Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do,” and Thom spoke about an interesting concept he called “the paradox of potential.” He defined it as the gap between an individual’s potential and the real results they are getting in their careers. I continued to reflect on this idea long after the podcast ended. What were the key behaviors and skills that were responsible for the results I had achieved in my business career? The answer to that question was easy and clear: I developed and deploy great listening skills.

Why listening? A successful business excels at finding solutions to resolve client or company “problems” or to develop solutions that make it more productive, efficient and competitive in the marketplace. As a leader at any level, in any organization, of any size, in any industry, can you find solutions effectively and profitably without listening to your clients or team? My answer would be “no,” but I am frequently approached to coach leaders of organizations who believe and practice the opposite.

Two of the topics dominating business discussions today are employee disengagement and developing corporate culture. Are listening skills key to effectively and credibly inspiring the hearts and engaging the minds of those you interact with or lead? They may just be the only thing that can.

A great deal of information is available on the science, tactics and barriers to effective listening. My goal here is to simply share my thoughts and ask some questions to give you the opportunity to think about your listening skills and the value of using the “simple” act of listening to improve your performance, productivity and, ultimately, your results. …