As technology has expanded, we as customers and buyers within the B2B and B2C space have begun interacting with businesses like they are people. Talking to them, sending them feedback, sharing their news, and so on.
On the company side, a quintessential ‘Chief Listening Officer’ has carved a niche in the C-Suite. This person would have a background in either/or communications, journalism, or business and is the gatherer of competitive intelligence for the company.
Legendary CEO James Cash Penney, the entrepreneur who founded J. C. Penney stores in 1902 once said,
“Listening is essential to clear communication, and clear communication is necessary to management success.”
As organizations grow, this role is gaining importance in the C-Suite as every department has their own missions and KPI’s, yet, there isn’t one person who gathers, dissects and communicates appropriate feedback or information to the right people. Fragmented information can’t be tracked into actionable endpoints – therefore, this position; to fragment, decompress, action, compress, communicate.
To become a Chief Listening Officer (CLO), there are some key traits that we’ve noticed over time, which are important in making this role a useful and successful one.
1. Practice Thoughtful Listening
There are two types of listening, active and passive. Within active listening, the person acknowledges, asks questions, reiterates to show interest, and even remembers conversations way after they’re gone.
With passive listening, the person seems a little distant, doesn’t respond to the conversation as much, and even will forget key facts and information passed over.
To be in the CLO position, you need to be an agile, active listener as when people do communicate with the business, they want to be heard, made to feel important, and lastly, want to see their feedback taken into consideration – if possible.
In addition to listening, a CLO needs to be able to filter useful information from noise – this helps with prioritization of tasks and giving actionable feedback to the right team. When you filter noise, you reduce the need to focus on the banal – instead, shift focus towards the impactful items.
2. Practice The Pause
Understand and leverage the “Power of Pause.” The pauses will communicate that you are getting ready to say something of importance. It gives you and the listeners time to process. A silent break also grabs your audience’s attention. It allows them to digest what you’re saying while you take a breath.
When you pause and breathe, you stay present and focused. A perfect pause can enhance any presentation and make it much more impactful. A good leader will pause after someone has spoken to ensure that they have taken in all that has been said.
3. Ask More Questions
One of the simplest ways to be a listening officer is to ask more questions than you give answers. When you ask questions, you create a safe space for other people to give you an unvarnished truth.
Reading someone’s mind is quite difficult. Most of the time impossible. Going for this kind of question instead of the ones where the other person can just answer a yes or a no will help him/her to open up and to start explaining and sharing what is going on.
A “Chief Listening Officer” position is one that requires an assortment of skills and talents. Some that can be taught and some that need to be intensified via training or being on-ground.