Listen, Connect, Lead

Listening Makes You a Better Leader

Jacqueline Novogratz, chief executive of the Acumen Fund, which invests in businesses that aid the world’s poor, often works in communities where the people only make a dollar or two per day. Working in such a difficult, yet humbling environment, Novogratz has learned to be a leader that listens. She believes the best way to lead is to truly understand what the problem is from the perspective of the people you’re supposed to serve—whether that be your customers or your employees.

Novogratz takes the value of listening with her into her interviews as well. She is known for asking questions that are designed to showcase the essence of who you are, what makes you tick and what you are passionate about. She is famous for the question, “What are you doing when you feel most beautiful, when you’re in the zone, when you are shining?” By truly listening to the responses, she is able to find people who are a good fit for the company—people that have an emotional connection to the tough work they do at Acumen, not just someone looking for a stepping stone to something else. Click here to read more about Novogratz’s philosophy on listening and leadership.


Get Emotional

It’s easy to be distracted by a midst of ringing phones, a bursting inbox and an endless to-do list. But as a leader, taking the time to make an emotional connection with your people should be just as important as finishing that proposal or sending out that last email. Engaging with your people on a personal level shows them that they are more than just the sum of their output. An emotional connection isn’t necessarily about being emotional or showing emotion either. It’s about making a connection on a human level and having the ability to show that your relationship goes beyond the task at hand. Click here to read three simple ways to make these emotional connections with your people.


What Came First: Passion or Career?

Earlier this year, a New York Times op-ed referred to Generation Y as  “Generation Why Bother,” noting that this group is “high maintenance” and “perhaps too happy at home checking Facebook” when they should be out searching for jobs. According to Cal Newport, a computer science professor at Georgetown University and a member of Generation Y, believes the entitled attitude stems from the promise of passion—not Facebook. Guidance counselors, career centers and news media continuously advise Generation Y to “follow their passion.” There is no doubt that everyone aims for a fulfilling work life, but this phrase implies that first you identify your passion and then match that to a job that you’ll love right away. However, a compelling career is a journey, not something that happens overnight. Click here to read Cal’s opinion about how we need to speak in an honest, yet inspiring way when discussing the realities of the working world.


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