Listening to connect, listening to make a difference

John F. Kennedy said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” How true is the fact that we can learn quite a bit about people, situations and daily problems by demonstrating proactive leadership, and the form of leadership called servant leadership. I feel an ingredient in the recipe of this type of leadership is active listening.

When one has the awesome, challenging and fulfilling responsibility of leading a team, they must engage in skillful and active listening to connect, establish credibility and learn, learn, learn.

The synergy of teamwork is partly created by interactive and collaborative communication.

Good luck on really communicating without really listening.

To focus on another person and their message requires a humble sense of leading. Having had the pleasure of interviewing Mike Eruzione, the captain of the historic and memorable 1980 U.S. gold medal winning Olympic hockey team, he said, his leadership style was “showing respect, working hard, getting along and never putting self ahead of others.”

The last part of this quote relates to his coach, Herb Brooks, telling players to “check egos at the door.”

Another powerful example is Jesus, exemplifying this by the washing of feet and saying, “If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. If I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

To actively listen necessitates eye contact, full and undivided attention (stop that daydreaming), correct interpretation of speaker body language and tone of voice and certainly an understanding of the context of emotions and feelings.

You must tune out the physical and psychological noise, and tune in caring and attentive focus.

Yes, a challenge but what a reward you will experience.

Sincerely caring about the members of your team will pour a solid foundation for communication that builds teams.

Having a true team instead of just a group is ever so important for family, organization, nation and world excellence.

Machamer is a human resources professional and college instructor who is working on authoring a book. He also is a consultant with Pinnacle Consulting LLC in Williamsport. Machamer’s column is published on the last Sunday of each month. Questions and comments may be emailed to