Nailing It as a Leader

I recently came across a short film by Jason Headley, filmmaker and storyteller.

His short “It’s Not About the Nail” has nearly 10 million views and is a perfect demonstration of listening, a key competency necessary to be an effective leader.

I won’t spoil the short, but Jason uses his artistic and creative talents to show a common exchange that occurs between a man and woman and the impact of effective listening.

While this video focuses on the relationship between a man and woman, the message is applicable in both personal and professional settings. Everyone likes to feel heard and have our feelings acknowledged whether it is your friend, relative, colleague, boss, or direct report.

To be impactful, leaders must continuously practice and refine all aspects of their communication skills. Listening is at the core of effective communication.

Many leaders might say they listen to their employees on a regular basis. Are they listening to them? Or hearing them? Hearing is a sensory ability. Listening is a skill that requires intent. Simply defined by Merriam-Webster listening is “to pay attention to someone in order to hear what is being said.” As coaches, we encourage leaders to listen in both formal and informal settings with many senses.

Some key suggestions include:

  • Observe nonverbal communication (e.g. facial expressions, body language, spatial relationship, eye contact, etc.);
  • Listen for tone, volume, or key words that give insight about an individual’s values or state of mind;
  • Ask questions or paraphrase to show understanding

Leaders who can listen effectively are able establish trust, build rapport, and develop healthy, lasting relationships with their employees.  Next time you are in a conversation, one-on-one, or team meeting ask yourself if you are fully present.  If not, get there.


- Tracy Brown -

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