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At “U and Improved” when we ask for characteristics of leadership, here are some of the things we hear: Leaders listen They are team builders Leaders lead by example Leaders are honest Leaders come from integrity Leaders inspire and include others This points to the fact that communication is the essence of leadership.  A huge part of communicating is developing listening skills.  Joseph Pine, author of The Experience Economy, said, “The experience of being understood, versus interpreted, is so compelling you can charge admission.”  There is a universal longing to be known…to be understood.  Unfortunately, the experience is rare.  We may succeed in hearing every word, yet miss the message altogether. The people that you work with want to be included.  They want to know that their ideas, concerns and suggestions are important.  Some people do not have the courage to simply speak up; they wait to be asked for their input.  A wise leader will solicit feedback, knowing that they hired their team for their experience and insights. When the individuals in an organization see that this kind of open and honest communication is an integral part of the culture, they will gain the confidence to share their thoughts and creativity with enthusiasm. And it is not enough for a leader to be visionary.  They have to be able to communicate that vision to the people around them, with enthusiasm and conviction.  When the leader is fired up about the vision, that energy will transfer to the masses.  Leaders include others.  People do not want things to be done to them, they want things to be done with them.  Individuals want to feel valuable and important to causes greater than they.  Leaders tap into the individual strengths of their team knowing that none of us are as powerful as all of us. Pay attention to how you listen.  Are you distracted?  Are you waiting for your turn to talk? Are you multi-tasking?  Are you looking at the person talking taking in their body language and truly engaged with what they are saying?  Make a point to truly listen and see how the people around you react. Gina Jonas Master Leadership Trainer