The 3 instruments of inner knowing are:

  1. Open Mind
  2. Open Heart
  3. Open Will

An open mind is the capacity to suspend old habits of judgment – to see with fresh eyes.

An open heart is the capacity to empathize and to look at a situations through the eyes of somebody else.

An open will is the capacity to ‘let go’ of the old and ‘let come’ the new.

LISTENING:

Listening is probably the most underrated Leadershp Skill.

At the heart of most leadership failures, leaders are often unable to connect with and make sense of the ‘VUCA’ world around them ; i.e. a world defined by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.

Listening is not only important for leadership. If you are not a good listener, there is no way you can develop real mastery in any discipline.

Shifting your mode of listening is life-changing. Shifting how you listen, the way you pay attention, sounds like a really small change. But here is the thing: Changing how you listen mean that you change you experience relationships and the World. And if you change that, you change, well EVERYTHING.

To become a better listener, you first need to understand the four types of listening.

The four types of listening reflect the underlying principles of the opening of the mind, heart and will.

DOWNLOADING:

At this level, listening is limited to reconfirming what we already know. Nothing new penetrates our bubble.

FACTUAL LISTENING:

We let the data talk to us and notice dis-confirming information. Doing this requires opening the mind – i.e. the capacity to suspend our habits of judgement.

EMPATHIC LISTENING:

We see the situation through the eyes of another. Doing this requires opening the heart; using our feelings and our heart as an organ of tuning in to another person’s view.

GENERATIVE LISTENING:

We listen for the highest future possibility to show up while holding a space for something new to be born.

When you listen on level 1, ‘downloading’, your attention is not focused on what the other person says but on your own inner commentary. e.g. You may be planning what you will say next.

As you cross the threshold from downloading to factual listening (from level 1 to level 2), your attention moves from listening to your inner voice to actually listening to the person in front of you. You open up to what is being said.

When you start to cross the threshold from factual to empathic listening (from level 2 to level 3), your place of listening shifts from you to the other person -i.e. your place of listening shifts from you to the other person -i.e. from your small vehicle(the intelligence of your heart). You step into the other person’s perspective. E.g.: You may think: ” oh, I may not agree, but I can see how she sees this situation.”

Finally, when you cross the threshold from empathic to generative listening (level 3 to level 4), your listening becomes a holding space for bringing something new into reality that wants to be born. You listen with openness to what is unknown and emerging.

The success of leadership and change management depends on the ability of the leader to observe his or her quality of listening and to adjust the quality of listening to what is needed in each situation.

This write up is based on Theory U by MIT Prof. Dr. Otto Scharmer.

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