The Benefits of Leading by Listening


By Jennifer Gartner
By Jennifer Gartner

When the word “boss” comes to mind, many people recall supervisors with a stern, parental style of management and an emphasis on following directions rather than innovation and contribution. Under this type of leadership, employees recall scrambling to complete tasks without clear direction or feeling part of a team. The result is a detrimental effect on a team’s cohesiveness and productivity.

An authoritarian approach to leadership may be popular, but another leadership style – leading by listening – offers not only a more peaceful work environment, but a better bottom line. Garvin De Shazer, direct sales consultant with Sheffield Enterprises, believes that “management is changing,” and that listening to both clients and employees “is key in obtaining results in any business endeavor, no matter the field.” The Sheffield Company helps clients succeed in selling their products faster and to more customers than if they had marketed the product on their own. De Shazer says that in his work he must ask clients explicitly, “What do you want and need?”

“I have owned a number of businesses and managed many employees,” De Shazer explained. “Anyone in today’s world who is attempting to manage a group of people without listening to constructive feedback could set themselves up for failure. It is hard to achieve results or attain quality on a team without listening. If one has an ‘us vs. them’ mentality, or a ‘manager vs. employee’ mentality, this could pose problems. A good leader, a true leader, must erase that distinction. ‘We’ are all ‘us.’ When employees feel like they are a productive part of a team, both managers and employees progress in any field,” he continued.

Listening also promotes productivity and enhances the bottom line. He points out: “Sales can roll out with all pieces working.”

Tom Aron, a former grant coordinator, supervised a million-dollar grant and managed up to 30 people. He remarks that, “Good leaders need to inspire” and that leadership is not a science, but an art. He further explains that morale remains an important part of working on any job or in any organization. If people don’t feel like they are part of a team and that their opinions are heard, they are not likely to stay in the organization.

Solid relationships promote success both on the job and in life. DeShazer captures this with his final remark: “Listening is the core competency in both business and life.”

Jennifer Gartner is a high school English teacher in her daily life. She enjoys the outdoors, hiking, camping, and anything that relates to preserving and maintaining natural resources. She likes to freelance write and sometimes indulges in fiction for fun. She lives in Phoenix.

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