Listen to Understand

In every organization, people have similarities and differences. It is important  for a leader to be aware of the perspectives and backgrounds of their followers. One way to do so is to consider and verbally ask three questions when getting to know a group: “How am I like everyone else here? How am I like some people here? How am I like no one else here?” These questions help cover all the bases when first meeting a group.

Another way to understand and show respect to others is by studying the history of their culture and by taking time to get to know their individual story. By doing so, you not only foster loyalty in the individual, but you also get to know their strengths and weaknesses and can more effectively delegate duties to improve the group. The leader also benefits from hearing someone’s story. The more they listen, the more they understand.

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood” (Covey, 1989). Communication is already complex; it is doubly so when participants fail to listen and understand what the other is saying.



  1. Covey, S. (1989). The seven habits of highly successful people. Fireside/Simon & Schuster.
  2. Komives, S. R., Lucas, N., & McMahon, T. R. (2009). Exploring leadership: For college students who want to make a difference. John Wiley & Sons.


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