Listening, the Missing Leadership Skill

In May, Shana Cordon of The Moxy Lab spoke to Dish Women’s Network about what it takes to advance and succeed in leadership. While technical skills are important, even in tech the top-five skills for promotion to leadership depend upon the core skills of listening, speaking, and presence.


While many training programs develop skills for executive presence, including nuances of expression and outward-going communication, we give little attention to the foundational skill of listening. Yet research shows the effects of a healthy listening culture are profound. These include:


  • Greater trust in leadership.
  • Better team engagement.
  • More effective (and shorter) meetings and one-on-ones.
  • Fewer costly communication errors.


To develop your listening skills, below are five principles you can adopt immediately:


1)  BE PRESENT & ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS—Prepare yourself to be completely in the moment. When with others, try to set aside your to-do lists, your phone and technology, and your other concerns. Your undivided attention is the greatest way to show respect and appreciation to others, which creates trust and engagement.

2)  BEFORE RESPONDING, BE PATIENT AND LISTEN COMPLETELY—Resist the Rebuttal Tendency, in which we interject our thoughts before we hear everything a speaker has to say. Assumptions about others’ ideas are often wrong.

3)  BE CURIOUS AND ASK OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS—“Can you tell me more about that?” “What does that look like?” “What is the best outcome?” Asked honestly, these kinds of questions open up conversations and enable you to see and appreciate others’ perspectives.

4)  PRACTICE MINDFUL LISTENING—When we’re triggered, offended, hurt, frustrated, or disappointed, our nervous system activates and our listening suffers. To regain composure, take a few seconds to:


GROUND: Is your heart beating fast? Are you perspiring? Is your hand trembling? Feel your feet on the floor or your back against the chair. Take time to get grounded.


BREATHE: Notice your breath. Take a few seconds to breathe slowly, fully, and deeply. If you don’t already know them, learn and practice effective breathing techniques.


CONNECT: Observe your environment and find something to appreciate or for which you feel grateful. Gratitude reduces feelings of anxiety, fear, and anger.

5)  DEVELOP YOUR SKILLS—Listening is a skill, like any other, which improves with training. Unless we learn to listen intelligently, great communication is impossible.


The Moxy Lab also offers personal coaching on communication, presentation skills, and more. If you’re interested, check out and reach out to to connect you!


Shana Cordon

Founder, The Moxy Lab

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