The One Skill Critical To Great Leadership That Is Rarely Discussed

Recently I heard two statements that have caused me to address the one quality all great leaders have but we rarely discuss – Listening Skills.

  • “The biggest thing in planting a church is to listen…listen more than you talk.” – Chris Tomlin
  • “Talking is what I do but listening is my job.” – Ryan Seacrest

Listening is more than an absence of words while someone else talks.  It is deeper than not interrupting.  Listening is at the core of servant leadership.

Good listening skills communicate the following:

  1. Care For Others
  2. Concern For The Feelings Of Others
  3. Interest In The Thoughts Of Others
  4. Humility
  5. A Desire To Learn

My department works with churches.  Several years ago we asked the team what were the top five issues they dealt with when contacting church leaders.  Here were their answers:

  1. Getting past the gatekeeper.
  2. Indifference
  3. More leads
  4. Rudeness
  5. Needed more one-on-one time with executive leadership.

We then looked at the top five issues the church was dealing with:

  1. Financial results.  How much can we raise?
  2. What about the economy?
  3. Timing.  When should we start the process?
  4. What is the pastor’s role?
  5. Leadership alignment.

When comparing the two lists it quickly became apparent that the issues we were dealing with were different from the issues of those we were trying to serve.  Unknowingly, we had become more interested in our own well-being than truly listening to our clients and developing the skills and building the systems needed to help them.

It’s hard to teach a person to be a good listener.  We get tunnel vision, focused on our own objectives, and fail to listen to what is going on all around us.  Nothing is worse than a leader who continually answers questions that no one is asking.

Remaining quiet and not interrupting a person is a good start.  However, good listening truly occurs when we have taken the time to discover someone’s issues and concerns.  Then we take the extra step of having their issue become our own. 

  1. Business leaders, what are the top five issues your customers are dealing with?  What solutions are you trying to provide?
  2. Pastors, what are the top five issues your congregations are dealing with?
  3. Parents, what are the top five issues your children are dealing with?
  4. To all others in leadership, what are the top fives issues those on your team are dealing with?

And I could go on and on.  Similar to Ryan Seacrest, talking to church leaders is what I do but listening is my job.  Leaders, tell us what your job is.

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About Brian Dodd on Leadership

I am a church stewardship and leadership consultant for INJOY Stewardship Solutions. This blog combines my personal passions of church, sports, pop culture and family into a single leadership resource. I trust your time on this site will create conversations and add value to your life.

2 Responses to “The One Skill Critical To Great Leadership That Is Rarely Discussed”

  1. Really like this post! You’re right – listening indicates humility, such an attractive, strong quality in leaders. The two lists you compare display the need and problem so clearly. Great job.


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