Leaders Who Listen Have a Profound Impact On Our Happiness

We continue to witness a variety of leadership styles across our political, organisation and community platforms. Some styles of leadership will draw us in, others will repel us. Some will have us question our own values and others will inspire us to join in their vision and make our world a better place. Some will encourage us to grow and be better versions of ourselves. Others will leave us feeling humiliated and riddled with self-doubt.

How would you like others to describe you as a leader? What impact do you wish to have on those in your span of care?

I propose that when listening is a key tenet of your leadership, you will have a great impact on the lives of others.

Great leaders are great listeners
Leaders who listen, to our hopes and aspirations, to our fears and concerns with empathy, and encouragement to generate our best thinking, have a profound impact on the happiness of our life at work and beyond.

Lead by listening – to be a good leader, you have to be a great listener.

~Richard Branson

Great leaders listen to themselves and behave in ways that are in alignment with their values to inspire others. Great leaders listen to others to help team members step up and into their best selves.

Listening to what matters
When was the last time you took some time out to pause and reflect on your leadership of your life and at work? When did you connect and listen deeply to yourself? When did you check in with what really matters to you and consider the impact you have as a leader in your life and the lives of others?

The pandemic gave rise to many people reflecting on such questions. With the shift in working patterns, the well-being of team members and considering the purpose of business being a source for good in the world – when we focus on our people first – many connected with a more human-centred leadership developing greater empathy, compassion and listening to what matters for all stakeholders.  Recognising business as a source for good is to acknowledge that people come to work wanting to make a contribution, to find and nurture their gifts and talents and to perform at their best.  I believe that as leaders we have a responsibility to create environments for team members to fulfil these hopes and aspirations.

Many of the leaders I have the privilege of coaching are themselves redefining their leadership as the world around us continues to change and the nature of work has transformed. They are re-assessing and connecting with their own values – to generate cultures where their team members feel more connected to the purpose of their business and to contribute in ways that are meaningful and add value.

The impact of listening on our happiness

A friend recently shared with me a wonderful conversation with Dr Rangan Chatterjee, GP, best-selling author and podcast host, talking about his research-backed insights on his latest book Happy Mind, Happy Life with Elizabeth Day. Towards the end of the conversation, Dr Chatterjee describes the impact of listening as ‘magical’ – being present with someone, free from interruption, distraction and judgement. One of the rules of listening he proposes is to listen in ways where we have no attachment to the outcome of the conversation.

Dr Chatterjee believes almost everyone has the ability to transform their health and their happiness through making small, sustainable everyday changes. He shares a three-legged stool approach to happiness. From listening to Dr Chatterjee, I propose a direct connection with leaders who listen – in ways that enable others to be themselves – to positively impacting their happiness at work, and beyond.

Dr Chatterjee suggests two types of happiness: core happiness and junk happiness. Core happiness comprising three legs:

  1. Alignment – behaving in ways that are aligned to your own values
  2. Control – having agency in the ways in which you lead your life and work
  3. Contentment – being at peace with the decisions you make

Junk happiness comprises the shorter term happiness fixes, for example, indulging in a TV box set in a one night sitting, emotional driven eating habits – that chocolate bar, you wish you had resisted or denying your body’s call for exercise and slouching on the couch all day! Not that these are constantly bad; they are quick fixes, rather than fuelling our long term core happiness.

How might you apply the tenets of core happiness in your leadership?

Leaders who listen connect with themselves and their team members to learn what matters most. What is important to them. What values they subscribe to. In what ways their behaviour aligns to their values. By listening, you can support team members to articulate and align their values and behaviours to be themselves at work.

Leaders who listen provide responsible freedom for team members to have agency in the way they work. This has become a significant determinant in the way team members return to work – seeking to sustain the agency they experienced whilst working from home. You can generate trust in your team members through your own behaviours of competency, consistency, listening with compassion and doing the right thing, even when it’s hard.

The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas: it’s to create a culture where everyone can have ideas and feel that they’re valued.

~Ken Robinson

Leaders who listen encourage team members to think well as themselves and for themselves. You can listen free from interruption, judgement and hold a respect for the diversity of their thoughts, ideas and experiences. In this way, you will reveal the creativity and courage of your team members to make decisions for the good of all and feel content in doing so.

Thank you for listening!


Jane Adshead-Grant
Jane Adshead-Grant
Jane is a listening and people leadership specialist. She helps individuals develop their leadership gifts and skills with compassion, courage, and commitment to foster environments where everybody matters. Her gifts are to encourage and to listen. Listen free from interruption and judgement, encouraging others to step into who they were meant to be. She has more than 30 years’ experience in people-focused roles in the corporate environment. Jane is an MCC coach with the ICF, Accredited Coach, Facilitator, and Teacher of the Thinking Environmentâ and Ambassador of Truly Human Leadership. Additionally, she is the author of Are you Listening or Just Waiting to Speak?

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