When I accepted the position of Chief Operations Officer for our global team, I didn’t appreciate the role deep listening would play in my and our team’s success.
Deep Listening involves listening, from a deep, receptive, and caring place in oneself, to deeper and often subtler levels of meaning and intention in the other person. It is listening that is generous, empathic, supportive, accurate, and trusting. (Rome, 2017)
Over time, however, deep listening has become a tool that is just as useful to me as financial acumen and strategic thinking. Like many C-Suite executives, my weekly schedule consists of back-to-back meetings. These meetings are often one-to-one sessions where we cover the following topics:
- Usually, taking the form of a ‘How are you?’ check in, but also trying to understand what issues are worrying them.
- I listen to their current challenges and blockers and how they are planning ahead. This time also provides an opportunity to find out about the well-being of their team.
- We share what we each need to know and share with others.
A few weeks ago, someone commented: “I feel like I need to be paying for these sessions.”, after I gave him a few valuable nuggets of advice that resonated with him and on which he could act.
It was only through deep listening to both what was not said and what he shared that I was able to help him unlock more of what he wanted and needed. These coaching conversations have become a critical part of my leadership style. As the COO, my role is to help people be the best version of themselves, enabling them to contribute the most to achieving the company goals in the best way possible.
Deep listening is paramount when it comes to our external stakeholders. By listening to and reading the global market, I’m able to analyze trends and understand the potential risks and opportunities in the Edtech industry.