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Why you need to take a listening tour

3 min read


This guest post is by Scott Eblin, president of The Eblin Group and author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success. Follow him on Twitter at @ScottEblin.

When was the last time a colleague stopped by to sincerely ask for your perspective and advice?  If you’re like a lot of my executive clients, the answer is “never.”  Even if you haven’t experienced it, you can imagine how you’d feel if a colleague conducted a conversation with you in which he asked  a series of open-ended questions about your goals, priorities and how he could help.  Listened to, respected and valued are all words that come to mind.

Successful leaders know that it’s critical to tune in to what’s most important to their stakeholders.   Listening is a great way to do that.  Especially if you’re the newest member of the leadership team, going on a listening tour can be a valuable way to build relationships and determine your priorities.   In planning your listening tour, identify your stakeholders and develop a list of questions to ask each of them in conversation. Building your conversation around some questions will enable you to compare what you hear and to identify your initial priorities.

Here are some of the questions that my clients have asked on their listening tours:

  • What are the key outcomes that will make this year successful for you and your team?
  • What kind of support would you like to see from me and my team to support your success?
  • What is working well that my team should keep doing?
  • What would you like to see my team start or stop doing to be more effective?
  • If you were to look out 12 to 24 months from now and envision my team as completely successful,  what would you see in terms of results and the mindsets and behaviors that drive results?
  • What advice do you have for me in my new role?

So, you’re the new leader and you’ve conducted your listening tour with stakeholders up and down in the organization as well as left, right and diagonally.  What do you next?  Here are some road tested suggestions:

  1. Organize your thoughts and come up with your short- and long-term priorities.
  2. Share what you’ve learned with your team and get them engaged in creating and following through on an action plan.
  3. Circle back with the rest of your stakeholders to let them know what you’ve learned and how you’ll be following up.
  4. Stay connected with your team and your stakeholders to ensure that the priorities are addressed and that everyone is aware of the progress and what they can do to help.

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason.  When you’re the leader the best way to make progress on the things that matter most is to listen more and talk less.  Going on a listening tour is a great way to get started.

Image credit, fabervisum, via iStock