Like everyone, I have had countless different leaders in my life. Whether the coach of one of my baseball or basketball teams, the head of a company I worked for, or even someone who briefly took on a leadership role during a group project or team building workshop.
One of the leaders that always stands out to me in my life is my elementary school principal. It was a small school so she knew and had a real relationship with every single student. What I remember about her most is the way she spoke so eloquently, her calming presence and most importantly, the way she listened.
(Knuckleball Comedy leadership workshop for Rippling in September of 2021)
She was of course a very busy woman, but when you wanted to sit down and talk with her, even to a small child, she sat up, she looked at you, and she listened. I can only imagine the many silly things she had been asked or told by a 1st grader. But when she had the time, she listened.
She listened so well that when I would leave her office, no matter the conversation, I was smiling ear to ear. I walked away thinking I was the most important person in the whole school, maybe even the whole world. The principal, the one who is always in important meetings, who gives speeches at the big school events, who decides who, what, where and when about everything in school, she likes ME the best. Or at least that’s what I thought.
By the time I got to 8th grade and was almost on my way out of the school and onto a different one, I realized I wasn’t the only one who left her office with a smile. 1st graders, 3rd graders, teachers, parents and everyone in between left her office with a smile. Of course I wasn’t upset to know that in fact I wasn’t particularly special. I understood by then what was happening.
She was a great listener. She listened so well that everyone left a conversation with her feeling like the most valuable person in the world. It made the students happier, the teachers happier and the parents happier. The school was a better place because the principal listened. That’s it.
What a skill to have. She of course had many other talents, but to this day I’ve never met anyone who listened so well. And it’s not a skill you can put on a resume when applying for a leadership position, but I think it’s the most important trait for a leader.
The question must be asked, if you aren’t a great listener now, can you learn to become one?
I believe so.
That’s why when we run our leadership workshops for Knuckleball Comedy at companies all over the world, we preach how to become a better leader by being a better listener.
Do people leave your office feeling like the most important person in the world?
If the answer is no, wouldn’t it be nice if the answer was yes? Just imagine that.
Want to become a better leader? Just listen.
Check out our leadership workshops HERE.