Trans4mind Home Page
~ Making the Human Heart Visible ~

Looking for a better life?

Our online, interactive video workshops present the most effective methods of personal development, combined with personal support from expert life coaches.

Explore Article Library

The Listening Leadership Talk

By Brent Filson

Summary: The Leadership Talk is an important tool for leaders of all ranks and functions. But some of the most effective Leadership Talks are not what leaders say but what the people they lead say. Here are three ways to give what is often the best kind of Leadership Talk, the Listening Leadership Talk.

For more than 20 years, I have taught the Leadership Talk to thousands of people worldwide. And maybe the most important thing I've taught isn't about talking -- at least the leader's talking.

I've taught there is a hierarchy of verbal persuasion. The lowest levels, the least effective, are speeches and presentations. The highest levels, the most effective, are Leadership Talks.

I've taught that speeches/presentations communicate information; Leadership Talks, on the other hand, have leaders establish deep, human, emotional connections with audiences -- indispensable in achieving great results.

Of course, the Leadership Talk is by definition about talking. But often there's a more effective dynamic to employ: listening. Not passive listening -- but listening for one purpose, so the other person gives you your Leadership Talk.

After all, it's not what you say that's important in a Leadership Talk but what your audience does after you have had your say.

And if they do the best thing not after you speak but after you listen, then you have given one of the most effective Leadership Talks of all -- a Listening Leadership Talk.

The Listening Leadership Talk focuses on what other people are invariably interested in, themselves. (Who isn't interested when they themselves are talking?) But here's the key: their simply talking is useless to your leadership. It is only useful when their talk is the talk you need for them to give.

Moving people from talking their talk to talking your talk -- and ultimately walking your walk --is the art of the Listening Leadership Talk.

Here are a few tips to make it happen.

(1) Use question marks. Asking questions encourages people to reflect upon and talk about the challenge you face. After all, we can't motivate anyone to do anything. They have to motivate themselves. And they best motivate themselves when they reflect on their character and their situation and are also given the opportunity to talk about their reflections.

You may not like what they say; but often their answer is better in terms of advancing their motivation and your results than your full-stop sentence.

Furthermore, their answer may prompt them to think they have come up with a good idea. People tend to be less enamored of your ideas than they are of their own.

However, be aware of the difference between asking a question of somebody and questioning them. When asking a question, you communicate you're interested in the answer the person wants; when questioning, you communicate you're interested in the answer you want. And if the people you are interacting with think you are there not for them but for yourself, you damage the environment a Listening Leadership Talk can thrive in.

(2) Create a critical convergence. This will help you avoid the "herding cats" syndrome. Once you get people talking, they may be all over the map, talking about everything but what you want to have talked about.

Keep things on track by establishing a critical convergence, the joining of your enthusiasms and theirs so they're as enthusiastic as you about meeting the challenges you face. Do that by understanding their needs as problems and seeking to have them voice solutions to those problems, solutions that advance your leadership concerns.

For instance, at a police academy classroom, the instructor passed a note to one of the recruits. It read, "CLEAR THIS CLASSROOM OUT NOW!" The recruit started shouting, "Everybody out of the room!" People looked confused. A few left. The remainder stayed. The instructor gave the note to another recruit, who pleaded, "Please, everybody out." Still, people remained there. Then the instructor gave a note to a third recruit, who developed a Listening Leadership talk by creating a critical convergence. He asked, "What time is it?" "Quarter to twelve," someone answered. The recruit with the note simply shrugged and in the silence, let the idea emerge. "Lunch break!" the recruits called in unison and quickly cleared the room.

Creating a critical convergence establishes and environment in which the Listening Leadership flourishes.

(3) Develop a Leadership Contract. This may be written -- from a few ideas scribbled on a scrap of paper to a more formal typed version calling for your signatures -- or the Contract may simply be an oral agreement, sealed with a handshake. Clearly, it's not a legal instrument -- nor should it embody legalese. It's just a spelling out of the leadership actions you both agree must be taken to accomplish your goal.

Here's the key: The best way to get that agreement is first to have them talk about actions they propose to take. Make sure they describe precise, physical actions. And not just any actions but leadership actions. Discourage them from talking about how they'll be doing tasks. Instead, encourage them to talk about how they'll be taking leadership of those tasks. (There is a big difference in terms of results generated between doing and leading.) Then ask how they need to be supported in those actions. Finally, ask them how those actions should be monitored and evaluated. In getting answers to these questions, you'll be putting together a Leadership Contract by giving a Listening Leadership Talk.

The Leadership Talk is the greatest leadership tool. But the tool has its gradations of effectiveness. Often your talking is not as effective as your audience's talking. When your Leadership Talk comes out of their mouths, not your mouth, you may find you are raising your leadership effectiveness to much higher levels.

2005 © The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

PERMISSION TO REPUBLISH: This article may be republished in newsletters and on web sites provided attribution is provided to the author, and it appears with the included copyright, resource box and live web site link. Email notice of intent to publish is appreciated but not required: mail to:

About The Author

Brent Filson

The author of 23 books, Brent Filson's recent books are, THE LEADERSHIP TALK: THE GREATEST LEADERSHIP TOOL and 101 WAYS TO GIVE GREAT LEADERSHIP TALKS. He is founder and president of The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. - and for more than 20 years has been helping leaders of top companies worldwide get audacious results. Sign up for his free leadership e-zine and get a free white paper: "49 Ways To Turn Action Into Results," at More about the Leadership Talk:


Careers & Employment
Grief & Loss
Kids & Teens
Public Speaking
Self Help
Self Improvement & Motivation
Sexual Relations
Stress Management
Travel and Leisure

From our extensive site, you'll find good info on many topics using this search:

A great way to support your Trans4mind Training is to use these popular and effective hypnosis downloads...

  • The Next Level ~ Designed to radically boost your performance in any field. It's based on a technique used by top athletes and other successful people to help them make a big stride forward.
  • Create Your Own Reality ~ Use the power of your unconscious mind to transform your life.
  • Deeper Self Respect ~ Use hypnosis to connect with your true inner worth.
  • Detach From Fear ~ Tune out nervousness and anxiety with hypnosis.
  • Generalized Anxiety Treatment ~ Use hypnosis as a generalized anxiety disorder treatment and you can feel calm today.
  • Improving Concentration and Focus ~ Learn how to discipline, direct and command your mind to improve your performance.
  • Exercise Motivation ~ Give you powerful keys to getting back on track with your exercise - and staying there.
  • Overcoming Shyness ~ Provides an invisible security blanket allowing you to develop social ease and overcome shyness.
  • Quick Confidence Booster ~ An audio hypnosis session that's specifically designed to get you (quickly!) back on track.
  • Stop Negative Thoughts ~ Learn powerful hypnotic techniques to stop negative thoughts before they start.
  • Overcoming Procrastination ~ Let hypnosis help you get on with what you need to do, when you need to do it. Let nothing hold you back.
  • Think Thin ~ Use hypnosis to re-train your brain and lose weight naturally... that's how to get and stay slim.
  • Fall Asleep Fast ~ Relearn how to fall asleep fast and enjoy a good night's sleep.
Search on an issue that interests or concerns you...

Trans4mind Training is the best thing we've ever done! It's a series of interactive video workshops covering the key challenges we all face in life - to help you achieve greater inner peace and true fulfillment.
Copyright © 1997-2016 Trans4mind Ltd