‘Listening 2by2: A Paradigm Shift for Leaders’

Leadership can get lonely. And when under pressure, it’s often hard to be vulnerable in front of your team members. It can feel like the weight of decision-making and responsibility falls all on you. 

What if there were another way.  One that could create a transformative culture where everyone is heard and valued, giving rise to enthusiasm and engagement, growing a better and stronger organization.

Authors Michael Gingerich and Tom Kaden co-lead the organization Someone To Tell It To, whose mission is to cultivate meaningful relationships through compassionate listening and training others to do the same. They have recently launched their new book, Listening 2by2: A Paradigm Shift for Leaders’, showing how listening to stories is a powerful tool.

In this episode, Tom and Michael share how they strive every day, either at home or in the workplace, to listen with intention. They also talk about their book and the story of a CEO’s leadership journey, where they paint a culture of listening as a paradigm shift that can create unexpected magic for an organization. It creates an atmosphere where people feel safe to express themselves and their vulnerabilities, they are heard and known better, relationships are deepened, and people are more valued.  And this leads to success in an organization.

“In order to listen well, you have to believe that the person is worthy of being heard. That’s what we believe is at the top.” – Tom Kaden

Listen In Notes:

01:06 – Experiencing a powerful impact of listening two-by-two: Having two team members listen to them as leaders about some of the burdens carry as the CEOs that not everyone else knows about. It’s just so healing for us. And, we found just a lot of comfort and safety. But it’s just nice for us to be the ones being heard.

07:28 – Describing the new paradigm shift of listening 2by2: If we are not listening, we are not hearing what others need. We’re not hearing their ideas, we’re not understanding their feelings, we’re not really paying attention to them, really not valuing them, really not enabling them to be the best people they can be. That’s a picture we want to paint that we want to show people that listening needs to be at the very top of everything we do.

14:02 – How does listening 2by2 create that sense of safety: It helps to give more courage to whatever needs to be said, whatever needs to be shared

17:28 – How they vet the listening pairs in their organization so that they get along well and see things in common and divergent ways. 

19:47 – How having different perspectives complement more and become very helpful 

22:21 – Listening with intention can change culture: If you ask those you lead how they’d like to be treated, and then intentionally listen to their answers, and respectfully consider them, you will have the beginning of a transformed culture that helps people be excited and enthusiastic about their work. 

25:33 – They describe the acronym LISTEN from the book: the value that we’ve assigned to the last letter N is Notice. The CEO in the book, began to notice his employees. And that made a huge difference. Then that also translated to home, where he noticed things about his children, about his wife.  And their relationships improved. And he was happier. 

27:44 – Noticing others creates an opportunity to notice oneself and the different layers to oneself that needs work

28:31 – Listening as a facilitator of change: It’s exciting to see team members who are excited about what they do, who constantly strive to do better, who constantly want to be their best, and have new and creative ideas all the time because it’s safe.

30:15 – The paradigm shift that happens when you become the story seeker in listening

33:31The huge impact leaders bring when they know how to care: To know that others know who we are makes a huge difference. 

34:36 – Simplifying self-care for leaders: At the end of the day, it’s all about people. It’s all about relationships.

35:56 How Tom and Michael practice self-care as leaders in their organization

38:40 – Advice to leaders who want to be better at listening in their organization: The more observant we become and the more sensitive to the environment around us, the more clarity and insight we’ll find.

41:11 – Inspiring words from Michael and Tom: The best leaders lead from a place of humility. 

Key Takeaways:

“To listen two-by-two, with 2 listeners, we have the safety of each other. In that safety, it enables us to be more open and vulnerable.” – Michael Gingerich 

“We’re trying to create this culture in our workplace that is very open, that is communicative, that is empathetic, that is compassionate. That is kind. Are we perfect at it? No, there’s always work to be done.” – Michael Gingerich

“Leadership is about developing others and understanding their strengths and their weaknesses. And finding the combination of team members who complement each other. The best way to do that is to listen. “– Michael Gingerich

“The atmosphere can be so much better, so much more fulfilling if we indeed do know one another. And they know us.” – Michael Gingerich

“If you’re not making empathy and compassion and listening top of mind as a leader in your organization, we can guarantee that you’re not going to be in a leadership position for very long.” – Michael Gingerich

“Listening is where it starts. And listening is where it needs to continue. And listening is where it ends.” – Tom Kaden 

“Sharing the weight of leadership is so life-giving. It keeps us from burning out.  It keeps us from experiencing tremendous amounts of stress.” – Tom Kaden

“Everyone needs to tell their story. And everyone’s story matters.” Tom Kaden

“It’s important to look at each person in front of us as someone of value, and to respect them. Because if we don’t believe that, if we don’t believe that they have value and that they have a voice that needs to be expressed, we really won’t listen to them.” – Tom Kaden


Connect with Michael Gingerich and Tom Kaden:

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