As well as the ability to exercise self-awareness, active listening is another essential leadership skill we’ve discussed a lot recently and rewards leaders who practise it with a wide variety of benefits. 

Development of greater knowledge, trust, and stronger connections, and the acquisition of insight and more powerful persuasive skills are some of the many superb benefits leaders can enjoy and, more importantly, harness to steer their organisations, or their teams, more effectively.

Being able to apply a skill confidently is a question of learning and understanding as much as possible, and then putting what you’ve learned into action. To support you in learning more about active listening techniques, we’ve highlighted additional useful resources on this highly valuable skill. All are credible are sources from around the internet so that you can trust the advice in them and listen not just actively, but effectively. 

Ten steps to effective listening (Forbes)

The article ’10 Steps to Effective Listening’ sits on the website of the prestigious Forbes magazine, a benchmark publication that features articles on business, investment, leadership, finance, marketing, industry topics and affluent lifestyles. The magazine belongs to the Forbes Media global media, branding, and technology company, and comes in several different localised versions. 

This article provides 10 simple but useful active listening tips, such as maintaining eye contact and observing non-verbal cues. One thing the article does especially well explains the messages we convey to others when we’re engaging in more passive styles of listening. Sometimes, these messages aren’t good ones, but this Forbes article can help you to steer clear of behaviours that send out these signals. 

The article concludes by providing the simple exercise of closing conversations with a summary statement for at least a week. The purpose of the exercise is to help you form this habit so that it becomes a natural part of your active listening. Summarising conversations provides the speaker with the opportunity to confirm what they’ve said and prevent misunderstandings from occurring, and also, as the listener, you illustrate that you’ve been hearing everything they’ve said. 

How to improve your active listening skills (Indeed.com)

You’ll find this article on the blog of the international employment website Indeed. Active listening isn’t a skill you can harness solely in leadership roles; in the broader context of careers, you can use active listening to progress and succeed on whichever path you follow. Indeed, as will many others in the careers industry, understand this. 

This long-form piece doesn’t merely explore ways to improve your skills, however; as well as discussing the benefits of active listening and offering insight into ways to improve your active listening skills, you’ll learn what qualities and attributes make a good active listener. The article writer also advises you on how to strengthen applications by incorporating references to the skill of active listening into your CV and, by asking paraphrasing questions, asking open-ended questions, and maintaining eye contact and nodding, how to demonstrate your active listening skills in an interview. 

This article is an invitation to reflect upon your own active listening skills and whether you have the skills and attributes of a good active listener. Do you have them all? Are there some you’ll have to work upon or develop? If you’re aspiring to a senior leadership role, bringing your active listening skills into play in interviews will be an important factor. The person responsible for hiring you may well be aware of the necessity of this skill in leadership and is likely to be observing how well you listen.

‘The good listener’s checklist’ (The Chartered Management Institute)

A visit to the ‘Knowledge and Insights’ section of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) can place ‘The good listener’s checklist’ before your eyes. The CMI is the benchmark organisation for standards in the management and leadership industry and is the only organisation that can award professionals ‘Chartered Manager’ (CMgr) status. This top-level status and accolade can bolster a professional’s skills and career prospects and is an indication of the individual’s (high) capability to manage effectively.

This article is slightly different. It’s not a straight step-by-step guide on how to improve your active listening skills. Nor is it an equally straightforward list of benefits, despite covering the benefits of active listening briefly. Instead, the article underlines the importance of the connection between the two speakers and of empathy, especially looking at the link between empathy and commercial success. Ultimately, this article explores the ‘why?’ behind the impact of active listening, before proceeding to set out a list of questions you can ask yourself to assess your own skills and identify how you can improve them.

‘The good listener’s checklist’ invites you to exercise self-awareness by setting the series of questions you should ask yourself to confirm whether you’re a good active listener. Reading this article will help you to understand the value of empathy in active listening and, combined with your answers to the checklist questions, help you determine whether you need to improve and how.

What great listeners actually do (Harvard Business Review online)

This article was published online in the Harvard Business Review, a general management magazine of which the publisher, Harvard Publishing, is a subsidiary of the highly prestigious Ivy League institution Harvard University. The university is home to one of the top business schools in the world, Harvard Business School. 

What Great Listeners Actually Do’ explains the conclusions drawn from research into the behaviour of participants in a programme to help managers become better coaches. The conclusions drawn from the research data challenge the conventional wisdom about what good listening involves. 

The article describes four main findings:

  • Good listening entailed more than being silent while the other person speaks.
  • Good listening included interactions that build a person’s self-esteem.
  • Good listening was a cooperative conversation.
  • Good listeners tended to make suggestions.

The article also identifies six different levels of thinking, stipulating that not all conversations require the highest levels of listening. Level 1 is a mere question of establishing a safe space in which the speaker feels comfortable to talk, whereas Level 6 involves asking questions for clarification and, without hijacking the conversation, interjecting with useful thoughts or ideas.

This HBR article encourages you to reflect on how you approach active listening. It’s an opportunity to experiment or vary your approach and see what impact it produces. Active listening also involves observing non-verbal cues and understanding how the other person might be feeling while they speak to you. If following conventional active listening tips don’t feel as if it’s working and you’re not sure how you’re going wrong, this article offers valuable insight that can help you to remedy the situation and keep your active listening skills sharp and impactful. 

Book a course with us

Active listening is a communication skill. When practised correctly, it will boost your impact as a leader significantly. The resources above enable you to expand your understanding of active listening and encourage reflection on the quality of your own active listening skills. Essentially, they invite you to practise self-awareness, an indispensable attribute that allows you to perform your best in leadership. 

Our Level 5 and Level 7 CMI-accredited coaching courses provide excellent scope to build communication skills such as active listening and to appreciate the importance of emotional intelligence in coaching, coaching is a skill that has become important in modern management and leadership. To book your place on a Level 5 or Level 7 coaching courses, or to find out more about them, click on the relevant course page and begin the process, or email us at enquiries@inpd.co.uk, message us via the form on our Contact page or call us on 0161 826 3139. 

We’re happy to any questions you have about our courses and offer advice on the most suitable course(s) for you, and of course, we look forward to welcoming you to studying with INPD.


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