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  • Writer's pictureAlpana Shitolé

Two Key Social Skills That Foster Connections

Updated: Jun 27, 2023

Here are two tips we can teach our children to become leaders that inspire. Because leaders are made, not born. People often think leadership is about titles or degrees. Yet, real leadership is about leading oneself in such a way that inspires others to follow.

Effective leadership is based on teamwork and is supported by two key abilities: Offering the Benefit of Doubt, and Mastering the Art of Listening.

Illustrated by Daniel Abrahams

The Power in Offering the Benefit of Doubt:

When plans fail and we might quickly make assumptions about people. But, as beautifully portrayed by Daniel Abrahams, above, we usually only see only a part of the whole situation. As a leader, it's crucial to learn to trust and not immediately blame. Instead of focusing on the mistake, we should explain our goals' purpose. This builds understanding and resilience when facing difficulties.

The Art of Listening:

Listening isn't the same as agreeing. It means staying fully engaged in a conversation, free from distractions or preconceptions. Did you know that there are different styles of listening? And only one of them truly supports effective leadership. Dr. Karen Revich from the University of Pennsylvania categorizes listening into four types:

  1. A Conversation Killer: Unconsciously shifting the topic away from the original subject.

  2. A Conversation Hijacker: Dominating the dialogue by focusing on your own thoughts or experiences.

  3. A Conversation Deflater: Downplaying the other person's ideas or opinions.

  4. A Conversation Maker: Listening actively and asking insightful questions.

Only the 'Conversation Maker' style encourages true understanding and empathy, essential for good leaders. Real listening is about respecting different ideas and fostering open discussion.

I have a great story to share from one of my students. He was a timid newcomer in a busy city. His parents signed him up in our "Collaboration For Leadership” course hoping it would help him adjust to his new surroundings and meet new people.

After five months, he shared his experience of attending a party he had initially been reluctant to go to. At the party, he remembered his lesson on building relationships - that it's more valuable to listen to others than to impress them - and he applied these new skills. Much to his astonishment, he not only reveled in the company of strangers but also forged many new friendships

These pillars of collaboration - Offering the Benefit of Doubt, and Mastering the Art of Listening - transform your interactions into influence. After all leadership is not about creating followers but inspiring future leaders.

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