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Listening – Leadership’s Common Denominator

Listening – Leadership’s Common Denominator

It’s Friday afternoon and I’m just now sitting down to write my weekly blog post. The trouble with getting busy is that it starts to impact my regular schedule. I’m not complaining; this is a good problem to have (especially when it’s a “being paid” busy)!

I just completed two days with a client in Vancouver where I presented my communications workshop on SOCIAL STYLES® and then followed up with six, one-on-one coaching sessions with leaders in this organization. It was great to see, and get the sense of the commitment the organization has to the development of its people, especially leadership development. They understand the idea of teamwork and recognize that leaders play a huge role in modeling and communicating the vision of the organization’s culture. They are providing a solid investment in both time and resources to make sure the leaders in the organization get the training and support they need to carry out this mission.Hear what I want to hear

In stark contrast to this experience, I also spent some time this week with another client who was struggling in his leadership role because of the lack of support for his leadership development. This was leading to low morale and potential safety concerns within his organization.  The client admitted that he was actually wondering if he was in the right place and if there is a future for him within that place.

Leadership development is critical because, as I have written before, leaders are made, not born. Yes, an individual may have innate leadership qualities but even those need to be developed further. I may be biased here — it comes from personal experience — but even the best leaders, those about whom we read in the media, have spent and (I would hazard to say), still spend a great deal of time developing their skill set. Ignoring one’s own development can lead to atrophy, which can often lead to situations (again often noted in the media) of epic leadership fails.

In both the examples above, there is one common denominator: listening. At the first organization the leadership is listening to its people, recognizing their desire and need to develop themselves, to do a better job, be more productive, to have the organization become one of the best in its class. At the second organization the leadership has closed its ears and eyes to the needs and wants of its people, unable or unwilling to listen and act on developing its people.

There is an important lesson here and it is not just about listening to your people. It is also about the value of leadership development. Organizations that invest in their people get something interesting in return: Those same people will invest in the organization by staying when other opportunities may arise, even if offered significant wage increases. Individuals stay with organizations where they feel valued.

If you are in a senior leadership role within your organization, how are you listening to your people? How are demonstrating to them that they are valued members of the team?


This is the sixth on a series specifically exploring what leadership is and how we can not only understand leadership but how to implement it

Leadership series directory:

Leadership is…. Three Theories of Leadership
Directing, Coaching, Supporting & Delegating Are What?
Who Are K&P and What Is TLC?
Servant Leadership is….
Leadership Style and its Impact


John Whitehead, coaches’ individuals and organizations in becoming more effective by helping them improve their interpersonal communications, emotional intelligence and resiliency.

*******Are you wondering if having a Leadership/Personal Development Coach is right for you? Contact John for a complimentary, exploratory coaching session at [email protected] ********

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2 thoughts on “Listening – Leadership’s Common Denominator

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