Blog Archives


Listening to Those We Lead

Recently we have read about our relationship with and communication with those we lead – with the Volunteers we “manage” – with those who work along side us to get those goals accomplished and to build capacity in our agencies and organizations.

My amazing Grandmother, Virginia Hitchcock Sopher, often said ( and I often quote her ) that “God gave you two ears and only one mouth.  There is a reason for that!” She at least strongly implied that I should listen twice as much as I talk.   Whether that was a way to get me to just SHUT UP or to really help me focus on listening, she eventually got her point across.  So much so that I still share the story today – obviously.

James Robilotta's photo.

So what types of results can we gain by listening?  Leaders will probably be better able to place volunteers in work areas better suited to their interests and skills, which will more than likely increase their productivity and positive regard for the tasks they are charged with accomplishing.  Leaders will hear the concerns and complaints or even potential dangers in some of the assignments we are managing.  Leaders might grow some team loyalty and group sense of purpose among the volunteers too!  One other often missed or overlooked benefit of listening is found in actually growing respect and even friendship from the relationships built by truly listening to volunteers.

Thank to James T. Robliotta for encapsulating the learning on this day in this way!  By the way, if you too are an aspiring leader, check out James’ new book called LEADING IMPERFECTLY,  published by AVIVA Publishing or find James online at !