Years ago I had a fantastic boss. Mind you, I still have a fantastic boss (hehe! – me!), but I merely no longer work with that company. He was a slow speaking, deeply southern and strongly accented man who stood taller than most of us and resembled something of a tall, cool, drink of water so they say.
When you stood outside his office in the doorway, you always saw his back as his computer faced the outside window. But when you wrapped on the door and said “gotta sec?”, amazing things would happen. He would stop whatever he was typing, hit a key that blacked out his PC screen, turn around in his chair on wheels, reach to his left and press the mute key on his phone, outstretch his arms and gather all papers on his desk and promptly scoop them into a folder set to his right side, and then clasp his hands in front of him on his desk and say “Why yes I do. What can I do you for?” This phrase, accompanied by his broad smile almost made you feel guilty for asking a question. To be sure, you only made him complete this ritual for an unimportant, trivial question…once. This was not the man you popped your head into his office to ask for a pen. But, this was the man you knew would listen to you intently and help you with your plight.
Yet, he didn’t do a great deal of advice giving either. He was brilliant and listening to every detail, pondering a moment and then asking a myriad or two of questions. Typically, you would then solve your own issue and be the wiser for it and you always felt so smart after leaving his office. Did he actively listen? You bet! Did it serve the purpose of making him a brilliant leader with less interruptions than most of the leaders who fixed all the problems of their team members? You bet! Can you implement these active listening skills? Hmmmmmm… 😀