Test Yourself: How Are Your Leadership Listening Skills?

“Listening is not simply a key discipleship issue. It is a core leadership issue.”

The fruit of a mature spirituality is to be an incarnational presence to other people. It was for Jesus. It is, I believe, for all his followers, especially for those of us in leadership.

The Gospels are filled with accounts of Jesus’ interactions with individuals: Matthew, Nathaniel, a prostitute, Nicodemus, a blind man, a Samaritan woman and many others. When the rich, young ruler came up to him, Jesus “looked at him and loved him.” He listened. He was present, never in a rush or distracted. He took the time to explore stories.

When is the last time someone said to you, “Let me tell you about those Christians—they are fantastic listeners! I have never seen a group of people more sincerely interested to know my world, who are curious, who ask questions, who actually listen to me!”

Listening is not simply a key discipleship issue. It is a core leadership issue. Give yourself this little listening test. Circle all the statements you can affirm.

  1. My close friends would describe me as a responsive listener.
  2. When people are upset with me, I am able to listen to them without being defensive.
  3. I listen not only to the words people say but also to the feelings behind their words and their body language.
  4. I have little interest in judging other people or quickly giving my opinion to them.
  5. I am able to validate another person’s feelings with empathy.
  6. I am aware of my defensive mechanisms in stressful conversations (e.g., appeasing, ignoring, blaming, distracting).
  7. I am profoundly aware of how the family I was raised in has shaped my present listening style.
  8. I ask for clarification when listening rather than “fill in the blanks” or make assumptions.
  9. I don’t interrupt to get my point across when another person is speaking.
  10. I give people my undivided attention when they are talking to me.
From Outreach Magazine  Try This: 14 Ideas for Seizing the Summer

If you circled eight to 10 statements, you are an outstanding listener. If you circled six or seven, you are very good; four or five, good; three or fewer, poor—“you are in trouble.” If you want to be really brave, after you score yourself, ask your spouse or someone close to you to rate you as a listener. You may be surprised.

Pete Scazzero is the founder of New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, New York, and the author of two best-selling books: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and The Emotionally Healthy Church. This story was originally posted on Scazzero’s blog at EmotionallyHealthy.org.

Check out Outreach magazine’s interview with Scazzero, “Emotionally Healthy Leadership” »