Future Fit # 14: On becoming an adaptive leader: Right listening

TomorrowToday has promised to help you start the journey towards being future fit – to becoming an adaptive leader. Being merely a ‘good leader’ will not suffice when it comes to meeting the challenge of the future. You will need to be a great leader and a ‘great leader’ is someone who understanding and practices adaptive leadership. This is part of a ‘boot camp’ through which we help you begin the journey of becoming future fit; we help you in the process of becoming an adaptive leader. Each ‘session’ is designed around a thought-bullet (Head) and an action point (Hand) – something to think about and something to try out. We have promised to keep the ‘head’ part to under a minute and the practical part (hand)…well, that is up to you.

ladders into the skyFuture Fit # 14: Listening to the music not the words


There is a story concerning Mark Twain that I have always enjoyed, whether or not it is factual, I cannot be certain. Apparently Twain made liberal use of words that ‘polite society’ wouldn’t consider acceptable – he punctuated his sentences with generous profanity. This used to upset his wife and after exhausting all possible measures to get him to stop this practice, she eventually resorted her last desperate measure. She picked her moment and then proceeded to launch at him every profanity that she could muster and that she could recall him using. The story goes that Twain stood silently by listening to his wife’s tirade until she eventually ran out of words. He then leaned forward and gently said, “My Dear, you have the words but not the music”. Adaptive leaders learn out to discern the ‘music’ beneath the words. They learn to see and hear what sits beneath the surface. They pay attention to body language, what is said as much as what is not said, eye contact, energy and emotions. Such sources provide a rich source of data that the discerning adaptive leader understands is important in order to get the complete picture. They train themselves to develop this intuition to the point where it forms a natural part of what they ‘see’ and ‘hear’.

At your next meeting pay attention to the body language of both the person speaking and those listening. What can you discern from what you notice? Track the energy levels in the meeting and what was happening at those times when it was either high or low? Perhaps you might ask someone else to assist you in this task and then compare notes afterwards. Google ‘body language’ and spend no more than 10 minutes reading up on something that contributes to your understanding and awareness in this area.

Index of Adaptive Leader series
Click here to see the full list of the Future Fit ‘sessions’

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