Leading by Example: Attentive Listening

Every day you have an opportunity to lead by example. Think about these specific areas:

  • diverting gossip
  • taking the higher road
  • positively commenting on a job well done
  • offering a sincere “thank you”

These are simple things, and yet so powerful when you lead by example.

You may be a team leader, a go-getter, a person with a vision, or even hold the title of manager or doctor. How do you lead by example?

Lean in, focus and listen, intently, consciously and with the desire to improve

If you act as a leader, if you automatically choose to look at the bright side of things, see the glass as half full, and do all this with sincerity– without really even thinking of it–then you may be on the path to being a great leader. Can you see solutions and allow (or even better yet, encourage) others to come up with solutions, too? Anyone can talk about problems, day in and day out. A leader helps to identify and bring to fruition solutions!

A leader “talks the talk and walks the walk.” What does that mean to you?

I’ve written before: “A common trait among great leaders is that they are great listeners.” That may seem counterintuitive, but it is correct. Listening–being really engaged in hearing the other person’s story–makes a good leader! Make a conscious choice to listen to your colleagues’/clients’ complete thoughts, without interruption. Intently listen, with all your attention on that one conversation, focusing into that one moment, and see how it feels. Absorb it, reflect upon what was said, THEN respond. Try this once a day, then twice a day, then 90% of the time and see how drastically improved and solid your interactions become. Seriously, TRY IT!

Oftentimes, when we think we are listening, we are calculating how we will respond, we are distracted by who knows what, or we are just plain uninterested. Is that engaged listening? No, that is engaged responding, off in lala land and disrespectful.

Listen to the entire “story” being told to you. Possibly it is an entire “history,” or even “instructions.” I dare you to listen to the entire conversation, consider your response, mirror what was said, get a solid understanding of the intent, THEN respond with your answer or suggestion.

How well do you listen? I challenge you to watch your actions regarding engaged/attentive listening for a week, then answer the simple question, how well do you listen, with an accurate sense of your listening skills.

The skill of listening is often unappreciated because many believe that  listening is a passive activity that doesn’t permit people to actively  demonstrate their knowledge. Yet effective listening is one of the more powerful  factors of attractiveness to others and a significant contributor to improving relationships.


Following are a few links to Leadership and Listening. Find a couple interactive listening quizzes. Sit down with pen and paper and see how well you listen……I DARE YOU!

AVMA has this FANTASTIC PDF for the veterinary team! http://ebusiness.avma.org/EBusiness50/files/productdownloads/AVMATipsBook.pdf

Active Listening, Conflict Research Consortium: http://www.colorado.edu/conflict/peace/treatment/activel.htm

Listening Quiz #2, vacationing with the birds. How well did you do?


Great video on Right and Left and their story with quiz at the end. How well did you do?


What have you learned from these quizzes?

Do it, Listen Attentively, RR





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