By Bernard T. Ferrari
Publication Date: March 2012
We all know that talk is cheap — so how do you value listening? Well, if you’re Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and CEO of General Electric (minority stakeholder in CNBC’s parent company), you put a lot of value in listening.
Writing the foreword for “Power Listening,” Immelt says, “Listening may be the single most undervalued and undeveloped business skill, especially in an age of increasing uncertainty and fast-paced change.”
Ferrari, a long-time McKinsey & Co. strategist and author of “Power Listening,” says you can pretty much trace back most of today's problems to poor decision-making because someone along the chain of command wasn’t listening. Whether it’s a simple misunderstanding or those bigger and more costly problems like the collapse of a business, Ferrari says the inability to listen can be blamed for most of those problems.
Ferrari says if you're not listening — truly listening — you're not engaged with those who are trying to communicate with you. If you’re not listening, you're not asking the right questions, challenging all assumptions, or understanding the context of every interaction. By learning how to listen — you'll become the "Master of the Question" — key to learning vital information and avoiding misunderstandings or assumptions that can sink you, your team, or your business.