A killer competency of leadership – listening

Recently I read a post tied to a video called “I am a Boxer”. It was particularly poignant because over the holiday weekend I had been told by two men what a feminist was.

Both of these men were over a decade older than I am. And from where I am sitting I believe that I have a strong sense of what a feminist is – how far we’ve come and how much still has to be done.

There are more women in executive positions than 10 years ago.

There is still a serious lack of parity in pay.

We’ve gotten to the point where there is more discussion about the ‘why’ of the pay chasm and that is good. The fact that it exists is bad enough. To assume that screaming about it loudly enough will fix would be naive and simplistic.

Feminism is complex, varied, and far from simplistic. The many faces of feminine strength can be seen in “We Are What Feminism Looks Like” and it is exhilarating to see those faces.

I told these well-meaning men that I don’t think they were even trying to hear my perspective or the perspective of the other woman in the room. Their response surprised me. One of them seemed fixed on assuring me that they had heard me and that their view still had somewhat more validity than mine on the subject.

And this is the incremental change that I will be tackling on my own – listening.

It was tough – facing the fact that I may not be listening either. It will not always be easy. It will be worth it. The time, emotional heat, and misunderstandings averted will make listening better worth it. I know it. I teach it. I preach it. And there are too many times, of late anyway, when I have not been doing it.

What about you? Just how present are you when the people who count on you – clients or colleagues or children – are trying to get through to you? What is the value of those exchanges, those relationships?

If there is any – if you believe that those who count on you count then let’s give some serious attention and energy to doing this one thing just a bit better. Let’s listen.

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