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Chief Listener: What the Clinton Team Has Figured Out and You Should Too

Planet_Hillary!_How_The_NYTIn last weekend’s New York Times Magazine which featured the continued political life of Hillary Clinton (and her possible run for president in 2016) much was talked about how Clinton’s team will have to do a re-calibration from previous election attempts/wins in order to have the high ground going into the 2016 election season.  This re-calibration will be about bringing in the ‘old guard,’ as well as the ‘new guard.’

An interesting story about loyalty, layers of an inner circle, and lessons learned, perhaps one of the more interesting mentions we noticed was this keyword:  Chief Listener. “Several people close to Clinton have already discussed installing someone to play the role of ‘chief listener’ while simultaneously buffering their noise – a position that didn’t exist in 2008,” writes Amy Chozik, author of the magazine’s cover story.

The major concern for the Clinton team is the ability to welcome new people on their team, while still acknowledging the need for senior, long-time strategists as well.  “The next question is ‘how is she going to organize this group of people who all want to contribute.’  The complication, of course, will be doing so without creating the vitriol and noise that scuttled her last campaign,” the article reports.

It’s a case of multi-generational conflict! And so, the campaign is discussing installing someone to be the Chief Listener to help mitigate that conflict.

What might the duties be of a Chief Listener?  Here are some of our thoughts and insights:

  • Flexing the Listening Muscle by restating what others are saying in the meetings
  • Reflecting on the feelings and emotions that are being brought up
  • Rephrasing and paraphrasing key concepts so that everyone feels like they’ve been heard
  • Asking a lot of questions as to unearth motives, assumptions and beliefs
  • Practicing affirmative listening which listens for possibilities (not threats and dead ends)
  • Making connections with differing ideas and bring the team into “convergent” thinking
  • Building a rapport with co-workers, bosses, and clients; becoming a trust agent
  • Being a ‘me too’ if there is minority thinking that could lead to group think
  • Walking around and talking with staff members face-to-face instead of email and text

What do you think?  In an increasingly polarizing world that encourages individualism, challengers and stereotyping (and not a whole lot of listening to others), do you think it’s time to employ a Chief Listener strategy?  If not on the payroll, could someone on your leadership team or in your meetings be a star point of listening? Imagine what we could learn if we listened twice as much and talked twice as little!

One Response to “Chief Listener: What the Clinton Team Has Figured Out and You Should Too” Leave a reply ›

  • Great points ~ communication is becoming a lost art, real communication anyway. Social media is not a good substitute for face-to-face communication any day of the week. Relationships, work and personal, are built and strengthened by personal contact. And the key to good communication? LISTENING, the way NDC taught me years ago! Thanks for continuing to carry the torch.

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