Become a Listening Leader

on Apr 1st, 2013 in Collaboration, Project Management, Talent Management, | 2 comments

I was introduced to the topic of listening leadership by Dr. Rick Bommelje when I was working on my graduate degree.  I had enrolled in a Leadership course that would help define my career style.

Listening is something I continue to work on today but has paid off in my self-awareness, building trust with others, and my ability to learn from others.

The approach that always stuck with me is called SIER:

  • Sensing – This step essentially is the beginning of the process where you are using your five senses to receive a message.
  • Interpreting – Here you start to arrive to an understanding of the meaning of the message.
  • Evaluating – In this step you are analyzing the message before jumping to a conclusion.  This is where many of us get caught making judgments before understanding the message.
  • Responding – The final step is in responding.  This is either through verbal or non-verbal communication essentially showing whether or not you understood the message or have questions about the message.

This approach is something that can be learned, practiced, and become a strength. You must be willing to become an active listener.

For me, it has always been a challenge to be a listening leader, I found that I would jump from sensing into immediately evaluating.  Personally, I have seen large improvements in building relationships with others but it does take some practice. The next time you are in listening situation try the SIER approach.  When you can actually determine where you are in the SIER process during an active conversation you are starting to become a listening leader.

If you are taking an authentic and active approach to listening, it builds trust.  Trust, in turn, will help drive your leadership journey.

For more information and his free newsletter visit Dr. Rick Bommelje’s website:

Your Leadership Journey

on Jan 7th, 2013 in Project Management, | 3 comments

I have often been asked what is the most important skill that any organization needs and successful organizations have in abundance.  My answer is simple – leadership.

One of my favorite speaking topics is on leadership.  I always ask everyone to reflect on something I call your “leadership journey” and to understand that we are all currently on our own leadership path.  Each journey is unique but we are all tied together in the framework of leadership and its impacts to us, an organization, our personal situation etc. Organizations are starving for leadership and I always argue is the #1 attribute that sets great organizations apart from the rest.

Now, take a moment and think about something you consider your most successful endeavor. Why do you think of it that way? What do you remember most about it? For me, I usually remember the people and situations. It is almost always about the journey and the others I helped, not the outcome. Sure, there are several efforts I am extremely proud of but those deliveries don’t define me, it’s the relationships I have led, created, fostered, and built that help carve my journey.  That said, the leadership journey we are on is not always perfect nor should it be. I ask, what is perfection and why are so many trying to achieve it, it is fool’s gold.  If you are paralyzed by the fear of failure it will never allow you to become the leader you can be. Removing the fear of failure while being focused to achieve will bring you the results you are looking for.

As leaders we need to push the envelope of what is “expected” into something that is unexpected. Building on others strengths to deliver impactful results and giving others their opportunity to lead is the core. Take the time to reflect on both the good and bad aspects of your current Journey and the what you want to become.  Use those experiences to build leadership organizations, because if you can do that your journey will ultimately be a fulfilling one.

I look forward to hear your feedback and continue the discussion on leadership as we move through several topics.

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