CEO Today - February 2023

41 LESSONS IN LEADERSHIP 5. The power of listening When I have conversations with CEOs as part of my ongoing research on 21st-century leadership, I am seeing a new wave with one thing in common: the best leaders are now listening more than they speak. If we think about how the corner office traditionally communicated with employees, it was usually oneway and static. That feels outdated - especially after COVID. One CEO I spoke to developed their own personal check-in procedures with staff during the pandemic, because with home working, there was no other way of gauging how they were doing. The ability to listen became a muscle leaders needed to exercise regularly, and that remains the case post-lockdowns. I always say that at the most basic human level, everyone appreciates the feeling of being heard by another person. It can help anger, anxiety and sadness subside, and fundamentally change our behaviour. From an organisational level, leaders can engage the heart of their people by listening, so they don’t just see their work as a means to an end, for example with their next promotion or annual bonus. In uncertain times, that can only help how an organisation operates. Dr Andrew White is the director of the Advanced Management and Leadership Programme at the University of Oxford's Saïd Business School. He is also an accredited business coach and host of the Leadership 2050 podcast, on which he has interviewed the likes of Unilever CEO Alan Jope and Mercedes F1 team CEO TotoWolff. You can subscribe to his LinkedIn newsletter: leadership2050-6793126251432304640/ “Given the scale of the climate crisis, we need more than just good intentions, and big businesses are rightly being slammed down if their rhetoric isn’t matched by real world impact.”

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