Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Listening: The Key to Collaborative Communication

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Listening: The Key to Collaborative Communication

Article excerpt

The following is a preview of one of the topics to be covered during Leadership Training Institute seminars at the Congress of Cities and Exposition in Phoenix.

The old military model of top-down leadership is obsolete. Even if there were those out there waiting for orders, today's events call on people to be creative, to think for themselves, to gather information, share it and collaborate on decisions. All over the world, people are clamoring to participate in their governance, in their freedom. Our constituents want to be heard, and effective leaders are learning to listen.

Most of us have gained positions of leadership through effectively speaking our minds, our plans, our positions and our values.

There are vital issues needing attention in our communities and we have opinions on how to address them. But haven't you found lately that your opinions are less important to your constituents than theirs are? And when you sit across the table from other leaders, don't they have equal attachments to their opinions?

If we believe in the democratic principle presented in Lincoln's Gettysburg address that we are to support "government of the people, by the people, for the people" it follows that we must listen to many voices in order to make effective decisions.

And if the decisions we make have any hope of producing positive outcomes in our communities, of engaging others' active support, we must make allies rather than enemies. Yet, unless you grew up in a Quaker family, you may have missed the course in listening. …

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