Your New Superpower: Listening

Dear Christian Radio,

How many messages do you get in one day?  Scrap that. How many messages have you received in just the past hour? There are more ways for people to talk to us than ever before. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…texting, emails, and passé phone calls all provide unique ways to communicate; but therein lies the problem. Everyone is so busy talking that sometimes it can feel like no one is really listening. And just like that, it hits you. Maybe listening is your new superpower.

If you are looking for an edge—something to help you really move ahead as a leader in 2018—make this the year of learning to listen. With the pace of communication these days, the people you are leading may feel overwhelmed. They may feel like you don’t have time for them. They may even feel as though your calls, texts, emails, and assignments are just more white noise. Sitting down with your people every now and then can bring tremendous relief. Simple one-on-one meetings allow them the opportunity to talk and the chance for you to listen. Don’t be too quick to dismiss the power of listening; there are a host of benefits for you and your organization when this is done with a genuine spirit.  Trust between you and your team members will grow.  They may even feel a stronger connection to your station’s mission.  It all begins to happen once they know your honest desire to listen to their hopes, dreams, and concerns.

Listen first
Leaders are often hesitant to listen first. These leaders are often afraid to hear what their team members might actually have to say. Criticism isn’t easy for anyone to hear. This is especially true of leaders who pride themselves on having all the answers. Negativity is another barrier that inhibits good listening. Complaining of any kind—especially when there’s not enough substantive “cheese” to go with the whine—wears on a leader’s patience and the team’s morale. Even so, those in leadership position must be willing to take in the good and the bad with a discerning heart and ear.

To whom should you really be listening?
Your ears should be tuned in to anyone and everyone, especially if they have information you can use to make your radio station or ministry stronger. That means your entire sphere of influence, which includes: listeners, donors, full-time and part-timer staffers and volunteers.  Decades old management theories still hold truth…

The people who know the most about something being done are the ones doing the work.

So, whether it’s the team charged with folding newsletters and stuffing envelopes, or those in charge of setting up and tearing down at your next concert, it’s time to listen. Their opinions and ideas are worth your consideration. You limit your ministry’s effectiveness by ignoring them, overlooking the very people who often hold the keys to golden ideas.

How do you get started listening?
Good listening starts with another great leadership concept, remaining fully present. With those aforementioned distractions of texts, emails, phone calls and social media, it’s easy to have one’s attention drawn to three or four places all at once. Meanwhile, the team member right in front of you—the one who desperately needs you to listen—feels neglected and devalued.

It’s time to mute your smart devices, settle back, and assume a good listening posture—your team needs you. Good listening requires your full attention. It also requires some subtle, yet important, non-verbal cues. During your meeting use appropriate facial expressions, nod in agreement, and smile, for crying out loud!  Do what’s necessary to let them know you are hearing what they have to say.

Leaders are always being watched and evaluated by their teams. What’s more, your team members are taking their cues from you. As a leader you expect your team to listen intently to what you have to say; therefore, start listening to them with the same level of intent. Model this new superpower for them. It’s amazing how much listening can change things. Listening will empower you as a leader. It will also let your team know how much they are valued and appreciated.

Dear Christian Radio…

     1. Listen to everyone. The best ideas often come from those closest to the work.
     2. Be fully present. When you listen, listen with intent.
     3. Practice active listening. Let the one speaking know you are receiving their message.
     4. Model good listening. Your team will follow your behavior—good or bad.
     5. Make ‘listening’ gospel. Reinforce good listening habits; make it a permanent part of your culture.


Jerry Grimes
Vice President of Creative Services
Positive Alternative Radio

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