How to Learn by Listening

One of the things many growing organizations have trouble with is alignment and communication – from both a cultural and “business” standpoint. This may be the result of physically distributed teams or simply rapid growth. The larger an organization grows and the more distributed it becomes, the harder it is to make sure that there is a healthy relational dimension in our communication across the organization. Even in a small organization, understanding the importance of relational connection takes communication to the next level.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Leading Loyalty by Sandy Rogers, Leena Rinne, and Shawn Moon

In business, if people merely like you, you’re in trouble. They need to love you! Learn how building loyalty and modeling great customer service behavior to develop frontline teams is the key to building raving fans.

To thrive in today’s economy, it’s not enough for customers to merely like you. They have to love you. Win their hearts and they will not only purchase more—they’ll talk you up to everyone they know.

But what turns casual customers into passionate promoters? What makes people stick with you for the long haul?

The industry experts at Franklin Covey set out to unlock the mysteries of gaining the customer’s loyalty. In an extensive study that involved 1,100 stores and thousands of people, they isolated examples that stood out in terms of revenues and profitability. They found that these “campfire stores” burned brighter than the rest thanks to fiercely loyal customers and the employees who delight in making their customers’ lives easier.

Now Leading Loyalty reveals the principles and practices of these everyday service heroes—the customer-facing employees who cultivate bonds and lift revenues through the roof. Full of eye-opening examples and practical tools, Leading Loyalty helps you infuse empathy, responsibility, and generosity into every interaction and:

  • Make warm, authentic connections
  • Ask the right questions
  • Listen to learn
  • Discover the real job to be done
  • Take ownership of the customer’s issue
  • Follow up and strengthen the relationship
  • Share insights openly and kindly
  • Surprise people with unexpected extras
  • Model, teach, and reinforce these essential behaviors through weekly team huddles

It’s time to invest in building loyalty. Even small improvements mean a big boost to your bottom line…and improves your business overall.


You would think listening would be easy. After all, we spend a good chunk of our lives doing it. We listened to our parents when we were children. We listened to our teachers in school. We listen to the radio in the car, and we listen to the TV while we are watching it.

But even though we have done it for so long, and even though we do it now, many of us don’t. Not really.

We hear sounds, but there is a difference between hearing things that happen to be around us at a given moment and actively, intentionally listening. The first happens without effort; the second comes through discipline and practice, and this is where we often fail. We find ourselves, especially when we are hearing something or someone we don’t agree with, not really listening but instead tolerating sound, just waiting for our own chance to talk.

There is a downside to efficiency when we’re working with human beings – we may neglect to take time to empathize and really listen.

The skill we are focused on here is not only listening to hear, but also listening to learn.

On a personal level, when we fail to listen, we not only miss the opportunity to show empathy and earn loyalty by connecting and learning from someone’s story, but we also fail to fulfill the greatest human need: to feel understood.

By making a genuine human connection with people and listening to learn, we uncover their story, which then allows us to feel and convey empathy.

By using the skill of listening to learn, you learn more about the other person’s story, and doing so enables you to show empathy. Listening to learn is not just a mechanical skill. It’s the result of really wanting to learn, of caring enough about another person to connect and listen for a moment.

Listening to learn comes from a heartfelt desire to truly understand other people. The more we understand, the more we can help them, the more loyal they become. The listening-to-learn behavior is rooted in the principle of empathy because it is about fully understanding and empathizing with the story of another.

Sandy Rogers, Leena Rinne, and Shawn Moon, Leading Loyalty


Listening is important. It’s more than just a skill. In fact, it might well be worth considering, if we have trouble listening, the real reason why it’s so difficult.

A starting point? Listen to understand people without worrying or thinking about how to answer.

Who is someone on your team who excels at making genuine connection with others through listening? Ask them to share their “secrets” for listening with your whole team.

Following that, discuss the following questions:

  • What are we really trying to learn by listening?
  • Which of the following “Listen to Learn” guidelines do you need to improve on?
    • Stay silent until the person has finished talking.
    • Listen with your ears, eyes, and heart.
    • Don’t worry about how to answer – focus on understanding.
    • Rephrase what was said and check for understanding.
  • What does it mean to “listen with our ears, eyes, and heart”?
  • How do we check for understanding without solving the problem?

For a leader, listening is perhaps the most important skill of all. As a leader, we must learn to listen while navigating along with the person speaking toward a common destination – mutual understanding.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 121-2, released June 2019.

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<


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