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Listening Ability

Listening Ability

Are You Listening? (Dolores O'Riordan album)

The author of the article below is Bernard T. Ferrari. Bernard was a surgeon, a corporate executive, and a business consultant with McKinsey. This article is both a ” joy to read ” and a “must read” – especially for executives.

Many Executives Focus on How to Articulate vs.  How to Listen

Indeed, many executives take listening skills for granted and focus instead on learning how to articulate and present their own views more effectively.  This approach is misguided.  Strong listening skills can make a critical difference, but few care to cultivate them.

Listening Helps to Ensure Better Decisions

Listening is the front end of decision making.  It’s the surest, most efficient route to informing the judgments we need to make, yet many of us have heard, at one point or other, that we could be better listeners.

Good listening is the key to building a base of knowledge that generates fresh insights and ideas.  Good listening can often mean the difference between success and failure in business ventures. Listening is a valuable skill that most executives spend little time cultivating.

Bernard provides great stories and examples – focused on the following three principles:

1 . Show respect

2 . Keep Quiet

3. Challenge Assumptions


The executive’s guide to better listening – McKinsey Quarterly – Governance – LeadershipIn This Article A senior executive of a large consumer goods company had spotted a bold partnership opportunity in an important developing market and wanted to pull the trigger quickly to stay ahead of competitors. In meetings on the topic with the leadership team, the CEO noted that this trusted colleague was animated, adamant, and very persuasive about the move’s game-changing potential for the company. The facts behind the deal were solid. The CEO also observed something troubling, however: his colleague wasn’t listening. During conversations about the pros and cons of the deal and its strategic rationale, for example, the senior executive wasn’t open to avenues of conversation that challenged the move or entertained other possibilities. What’s more, the tenor of these conversations appeared to make some colleagues uncomfortable. The senior executive’s poor listening skills were short-circuiting what should have been a healthy strategic debate.

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