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Listening Skills for Mindful Leaders

Listening Skills for Mindful Leaders

"In dealing with those who are undergoing great suffering, if you feel 'burnout' setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective." - Dalai Lama

I recently spoke with the HR Director of a San Francisco Bay Area company regarding providing executive coaching for the company CEO and other leaders. She asked some very insightful questions to determine fit. She wanted to know how I worked with different personality styles, and my methods for initiating change in thinking and behavior.

The HR Director and I spoke about my approach to coaching, and my belief that possessing a psychological understanding of human behavior based on neuroscience and mindfulness are important competencies for coaching executives. We also spoke of the need for her organization to create a high involvement culture where innovation and creativity flourishes.

The HR Director is interested in collaborating with me to help senior executives develop focus, and improve their listening skills to get the most out of their executive coaching programs. We further discussed how company leaders could benefit by working with an emotional intelligence and mindfulness-based executive coach.

"If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is.  If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there's room to hear more subtle things - that's when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It's a discipline; you have to practice it." - Steve Jobs

The Four Levels of Listening:

Level 1: The person somewhat hears the words but is off in la-la land

Level 2:The person is listening, but he sees no connection in the speaker and himself.

Level 3: Active Listening: The person is listening, being compassionate, starting to “walk in the speaker’s shoes” and is starting to see some connections in his own life.

Level 4: Global Listening: The person is 100% connected, engaged and is seeing how the speaker’s story is affecting his greater world.

The 5 Listening Styles:

  • Appreciative: Listens in a relaxed manner, seeks enjoyment, entertainment, or inspiration.
  • Empathic:Listens without judging, is supportive of the speaker, and learns from the experiences of others.
  • Comprehensive: Listens to organize and make sense of information by understanding relationships among ideas.
  • Discerning: Listens to get complete information, understand the main message, and determine important details.
  • Evaluative: Listens in order to make a decision based on information provided and may accept or reject messages based on personal beliefs.

Coaching Questions to Ask if You Feel a Person is Not Listening

  1. I am getting the perception you are not listening. If I am off, let me know. If I am on, let me know.
  2. If the person says “yes…you are right…I am not listening….I am distracted”, then say “How does your not listening during the coaching conversation also show up in your work and personal life?”
  3. Name the emotion you feel when someone is not listening.
  4. Paint the scenario for me. When someone is truly listening, how do you know it?
  5. What great listeners are your role models? How can you pick up on some of their listening traits?
  6. What would be the perfect environment that would allow you to listen deeply to others?
  7. What habits do you need to change in order to strengthen your listening skills?
  8. If you do have a lack of focus, have you spoken to your physician about this?  If not, when will you?
  9. What would be possible for your team/your relationships at home/your company if you were listening to the greatest level possible?
  10. What one skill could you improve, starting today, that would improve your listening?
  11. When someone comes to you with a complaint, if you get defensive, what is your plan to sit calmly and listen? (Do you need to take a break to the bathroom to gather yourself together, etc.?)
  12. What gifts and assets do you have which can help you with your listening skills?
  13. What do you believe about listening? What is your philosophy on the topic of listening?
  14. What is the dollar amount you may lose if you don’t improve your listening skills

"The happiness we discover in life ... is the discovery of the capacity to have a loving, free and wise relationship with all of life." - Jack Kornfield, A Path With Heart

Are you working in a professional services firm or other organization where executive coaches provide leadership development to grow emotionally intelligent leaders? Does your organization provide executive coaching for leaders who need to grow their listening skills? Mindful leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to create a more fulfilling future.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “How do I get the most out of executive coaching to focus, and grow my listening capability?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching as part of their emotional intelligence-focused leadership development program.

Working Resources is a San Francisco Bay Area Executive Coaching Firm Helping Innovative Companies and Law Firms Assess, Select, Coach, Engage  and Retain Emotionally Intelligent Leaders; Executive Coaching; Leadership Development; Performance-Based Interviewing; Competency Modeling; Succession Management; Culture Change; Career Coaching and Leadership Retreats

...About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman
Consulting Psychologist and Executive Coach
Trusted Advisor to Senior Leadership Teams

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and executive coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies select and develop emotionally intelligent leaders.  Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

“Maynard Brusman is one of the foremost coaches in the United States. He utilizes a wide variety of assessments in his work with senior executives and upper level managers, and is adept at helping his clients both develop higher levels of emotional intelligence and achieve breakthrough business results. As a senior leader in the executive coaching field, Dr. Brusman brings an exceptional level of wisdom, energy, and creativity to his work.” — Jeffrey E. Auerbach, Ph.D., President, College of Executive Coaching

For more information, please go to, write to, or call 415-546-1252.

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