A Strangling TangleTM paralyzes organizations and can lead to plummeting profits, lost revenue, and precipitous falls in market share. There are a number of causes for Strangling Tangles. Based on my experience and research, organizations with corporate cultures that discourage speaking up and sharing bad news are particularly vulnerable. Leaders play a huge role in building, maintaining, and changing corporate culture. One way leaders can change the culture is by learning and demonstrating active listening skills.
As an active executive coach, I am always looking for ways to teach my clients skills that will enhance their effectiveness. I have been twittering for over five months and just came upon some golden advice on active listening. Yesterday, I received a direct Twitter message from Kit Cooper (@KitCooper). He invited me to peruse his website, Quality of Life Project. Kit and his team interviewed Dennis Ross. Ross is an author and served as a chief negotiator for the Middle East peace process under both President Clinton and President Bush.
As a negotiator for one of the world's toughest challenges, the Middle East, Ross has to be a gifted listener. Ross explains that when you practice active listening, you gain an understanding of what is behind someone's position and "build good will." These are some of the questions that Ross asks: "Why is that issue important to you. I want to understand it the way you understand it. I don't want to have a false impression. Explain to me why that matters so much to you. Where does it come from? Why does it create an imperative?"
Ross adds: "When people see that I am curious by being an active listener, they get a message of respect from me." In my experience coaching leaders and working with leadership teams, when individuals feel listened to and respected, they are much more likely to feel at ease, which in turn leads to clearer thinking, and a broader array of ideas that allows leaders to successfully work through tough issues. The ability successfully work through tough issues means that potential challenges get raised earlier, before they become impending disasters.