Engagement: How To Use One Technique That Many Leaders Forget

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What is the most under used practice that many leaders forget about?

It's listening. With every leader I coach I find we work on this.  It's not surprising though. Every day I read another post about how leaders need to tell their vision, share corporate values, communicate priorities and strategies, tell about the competition, direct the team, convey their personal brand. It's tell tell tell tell tell tell tell.

The danger is a whole lot of one-directional communication, and there's not a whole lot of listening going on. The danger with this is losing touch with those you serve, losing the hearts of those you lead, losing opportunities to impact change, losing your leadership presence.

What are the financial costs of not listening well and poor communication?

  1. Total estimated costs to companies -- $37 billion/year (misunderstood / misinformed staff on company policies, processes, job function, work priorities, initiatives, or combo of all).
  2. Average cost per company -- $62.4 million/year (400 US/UK companies surveyed with 1000,000 employees)
  3. 60% - 80% of all difficulties in organizations stem from strained relationships due to ineffective communication, which includes listening

Even if you are a leader who does listens a lot (rare), I bet there's a type of listening that even you are either unaware of, or easily forget.

I'm talking about Appreciative Listening. What?? What the heck is that? It's a powerful type of listening that builds greater connection, trust, loyalty and engagement.

Why? Because this is the type of listening that makes people feel heard the most.

Here is an infographic of the 5 types of listening available to us, and when we usually use them.

5 types of listening Infographic.png

Want to add Appreciative Listening into your leadership skill set? Then follow these steps in the next infographic:

Appreciative listening how to.png

Download both pieces and try out Appreciative Listening. Clients and my MBA students love the results they get. It opens entire worlds for them. They say it's one of the most impactful activities I've shown them and they talk to me about it even years later. 'Gotta love that.

Try it. You'll like it. May you experience far greater engagement, trust, loyalty, better decision making, and deeper more meaningful relationships as a result.


  • Towers Watson, “Capitalizing on Effective Communication,” 2009/2010 Communication ROI Study Report with International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), 2010
  • Brown, A., Duncan, A., and MacDonald, F. (2003). "Proving Communication Impacts Business Performance", Strategic Communication Management, Vol. 7, No.6, pp 28-33
  • SIS International Research for Siemens Communications, “Communications Pain Study: Uncovering the hidden cost of communications barriers and latency,” (2009)

Dr. Karen Dietz has 20 plus years working with Fortune 500 companies, startups, and nonprofits with her unique combination of organizational development, leadership, high performing teams, communication and storytelling expertise.

Karen is an original in the field of business narratives, the author of “Business Storytelling For Dummies” (Wiley), a TEDx and Vistage speaker, and has built the world’s largest library of the best business storytelling articles with over 17k followers at https://www.scoop.it/t/just-story-it.

Karen has recently turned her skills to developing a similar library for technology leaders on data insights, data storytelling, technology leadership, culture, and high performing teams at https://www.scoop.it/t/tech-leaders.

She’s been around technology organizations for years and her favorite groups to work with are engineers and scientists.