Makarios Consulting Blog

Listening with humility — the most powerful leadership tool, is at the top of the leadership skills list

It can be hard for a business owner or manager to acknowledge that sometimes it’s best to keep the mouth shut and the ears open. Listening is at the top of the leadership skills list, but many find it difficult to practice. Even harder is the ability to listen with humility, as being humble requires a different set of abilities.

Listening is high on the Leadership Skills List

After experiencing defeats in the boardroom, executive at Allstate Corp. decided to put listening with humility back at the top of their leadership skills list and took the time to listen to investor concerns. The result was an approved executive pay plan. Chief Executive Officer Tom Wilson told Bloomberg that listening to company shareholders “has been a good thing for (Allstate). It helps us understand what our owners want.” The result of this company’s latest boardroom vote shows that you must be willing to take initiative to succeed, but you also must be willing to take directions and practice listening with an unassuming nature.

Listening with Humility

Mother Teresa, barely standing at 5 feet tall, was considered a role model among leaders. She was a powerful woman who didn’t use armies, money or pressure to influence change. Instead, Mother Teresa listened with humility. She set aside her opinions, cast out stereotypes, focused on the moment and acknowledged the troubles of others. She made listening with humility a fine art.

To listen with humility, you must:

  • Let down your defenses
  • Recognize the value of the other person’s words
  • Acknowledge your mistakes
  • Take accountability
  • Verify that you understood the other individual
  • Inspire good listening skills in others

The Problem of Listening with Humility

People hate to hear about what they did wrong, and it can be difficult (or annoying) to listen to the problems of others, especially if you consider yourself superior. Listening with humility takes time, as well as energy and emotions that you may want to focus somewhere else. Furthermore, it’s a difficult task; thus, the reason it tops the leadership skills list.

When you listen with humility, you take the steps to overcome barriers, clear personal biases and allow room for growth. Upon developing this skill, you’ll find that the price of acknowledging your imperfections is less than the cost of being defensive, as your business will only grow as large as your head.

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