Leadership is Calling Episode #44
Barbara Schindler & Heather McGonigal, Executive Coaches and Leadership Experts

Stop Talking, Start Hearing: How Active Listening Transforms Teams

“Truly hearing others’ perspectives creates understanding vital for unified visions and outcomes.”
– Barbara Schindler, Executive Coach & Entrepreneurial Consultant

True leadership requires compassion gained through deep, active listening. By listening mindfully, with empathy, leaders access the concerns, confusions, and cares of their team. This builds connections, furthers understanding, and enables moving forward in open, creative ways not possible without it.

In this conversation, leadership experts Heather McGonigal and Barbara Schindler delve into the often-overlooked superpower of active listening and its crucial role in building high-performing teams.

Discover how to:

– Move beyond surface-level communication and uncover the deeper needs and motivations of your team members.
– Build trust and psychological safety by creating a space where everyone feels heard and valued.
– Fuel innovation and growth by embracing curiosity and asking the right questions.
– Turn conflict into collaboration through empathetic listening and understanding.
– Master change and uncertainty by actively listening to your team’s concerns and adapting your approach.

This video is packed with actionable insights and real-world examples that you can immediately apply to your own leadership journey.

Key Points
  • Listening mindfully builds empathy and understanding between leaders and team members.
  • Curiosity about others’ perspectives creates compassion and meaningful connections.
  • Truly hearing people’s concerns fosters clarity and unified visions.
  • Active listening leads to better collaboration, cohesion, and outcomes.
Related Resources

Leadership Skills: Compassionate Leadership
Leadership Development Articles: Supportive Listening: A Key Leadership Skill to Up-level Your Business Today  |  Compassion: Essential Key for Today’s Entrepreneurial Leader
Downloadable Leadership Tool: The Secret Recipe to Reverse Burnout and build Emotional Endurance for You and Your Team

Supportive Listening - Leading Edge Teams

Auto-Generated Transcript – unedited version

Stop Talking, Start Hearing: How Active Listening Transforms Teams


Hey, Heather. Yeah, I was just thinking about having a chat with you about, you know, the skill of leadership, of really how we can approach in different ways to empower others on our team to be their best selves, to be their best performance. And, you know, one of the things that trips people up a lot is actually communication interacting with one another. And so I thought maybe we could chat a little bit about that.

Yeah, I love that. Yeah. Communication is key, and I think there’s a lot that people may take for granted. Like I know how to communicate or I know one of the things that we teach in our year long leadership training program is about different leadership skills. And one of them that may seem basic, but actually is a skill to master is listening.

Right. For sure. And I like that term because it’s meant to be mindful and conscious.

Right. And it’s actually a very important skill for empathy. Right. To, you know, just to think underneath, like when somebody’s talking, if we’re just in our head and our thinking, well, you know, are they matching my thought? You know, is this how I think about it? Like, you know, if we’re feeling a little bit nervous or under stress and strain, we might have that self protection kicking in. And it’s like all about my thinking versus what listening is like.

We’re actually getting curious about not only what they’re thinking, but what that experience is about, right? What they’re really trying to convey. It’s a whole nother experience to be working together on a team in a common space for common goals and start that space of like, I wonder what’s really happening yeah, it makes me think I’m one of, one of the the CEOs we met somewhere along the way in our in our program he had shared like even in a team meeting if someone shares an idea they’re not on the surface might seem terrible.

He’s really trained himself to say, That’s interesting. Could you tell me more about that? And I love that. And it’s such a powerful tool for how to be in meetings and conversations differently because you’re really listening to understand. Like often when people are raising something, maybe you don’t see the problem or you don’t agree with what they’re asserting, but there’s a reason why, like a deeper reason, maybe something is happening in their area of the business and impacting their team in a way that the rest of us weren’t aware of when we made a decision.

Right. And so they have some different information which is causing them to raise something and it lands a little funny in the meeting or something. But it’s a great leadership skill to then have curiosity, like there must be more to this story or what else is going on. Why did Heather bring this forward? You know, she usually brings, you know, very pertinent things forward to this meeting. And I don’t know why she’s bringing this up, you know, to ask open ended questions with curiosity.

I don’t know. What do you think, Barbara? I know well, you know, I was thinking, as you were saying, that, you know, in that experience of that particular person who really built a habit, it’s kind of like the pause button. We do it for ourselves, right? Like, You know, because I can imagine inside, you know, if we’re holding a position and somebody has an opposing thought that they’re sharing immediately, we kind of want to shut it down almost because it, like, doesn’t connect to like.

Right. And that’s that moment we need to pause and be like, well, what do they know that I don’t know? How are they seeing this with a different lens than I am? Like, what can I learn here? And I think that’s that growth mindset that’s so important more and more today for leadership, that active listening really gives us that skill.

And another example of we’re working with client right now here at leading into teams where a pretty major restructure of roles and some, you know, original team and some new team and and what’s really important about the restructure at the moment is the clarity of the roles we’re coming into. Even though we’ve done a couple drafts of what we think it might be. Right, it’s still coming along. And so there’s one gal there who is, you know, she’s kind of like a resistor, right? Like she’s having a really emotionally hard time working with, you know, other new people and not trying to.

Well, what she’s trying to do is hold some territory of how it was. Right, which is totally common. But what was really cool on the call, I was working with the CEO and the director of Ops, kind of a meeting after the meeting and and the CEO said, you know, I think that person might be looking for a sense of certainty and a sense of significance. And I was like, what you know, because here we are in this struggling conversation and wanting to turn it around.

But he had this moment of deeper listening and said, what’s really might be happening in this person’s life, this was really an empathy experience, but deeper listening, active listening. He’s like, what could really be going on here? And that could be so helpful for the compassion and the empathy that comes forward with just that, I wasn’t hearing that. Let’s look at how we might address more safety so that this person could find, you know, because we’re meeting a need, a human need and a working team, right? That’s common. It’s something we need to be more aware of. Right? Right. Yes. Right. Together.

Yeah. And it’s a clue, right? Is the clue in there creating more safety then? Right. It’s a reminder. Like, don’t push through this. Like, we’ve just got to get them to accept this. Like, no, there’s something really significant here. And often, if one person’s feeling that uncertainty or unclarity, you know, that’s a great indicator for ourselves as the leader to say, let me back this up a minute. Make sure I’ve painted the picture one that we’re on the journey together to that Hey, here’s how I’m seeing it. Is that how you’re hearing it? You know, like, we can create some safety with clarity and structure that really helps with people. And the thing about change is that, you know, we’re kind of saying, well, change is constant. Well, it changes the natural rhythm of all things.

Right. So I think we have to start, you know, that definitely change some, you know, technology in business and the, you know, the Internet and the more global experience we have has made it feel in business that things are moving faster and more complexity to, you know, too much information sometimes.

Right. But we do have to remember and I think this is something to create safety and listen into when things are happening, like when people are like too much change, it’s like, let’s go underneath that. Let’s listen to what the experience is at the moment. This changes to general nowadays. It’s like changes. How can this happen?

Right. So how can we listen in more and say, you know, how is this change impacting you? What are you seeing? That’s, you know, shifting or What are you most concerned about? I hear you are, about this, but what actually is your biggest concern here? And if you give people the safety, the safety to say that you can get to a resolution, you can get to clarity, you might find out a bunch of people have that same concern. And now we have a fruitful discussion and we have an even better plan going forward.

Like, let me just jump in with this like, do I really want to know? Because I think we have found ourselves sometimes like, okay, they’re struggling with change. I’m done with the conversation. It’s like, no.

Right. Yeah. Yeah. And as you’re saying, you know, having compassion, having more empathy, having greater understanding and clarity is so important today. And that skill and that practice to build the habit of active listening actually gives us the opportunity to get it just out of our heads and open more into that compassion.

Right. The act of listening gets into more of the person and the situation more directly. And so it’s kind of a speed dial to better interactions and greater decision making.

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