In his latest book Listening for Well-Being, Arun Maira narrates a story from early in his working life. He was working with Tata Motors, then Telco. The firm's technical collaboration with Daimler Benz had just ended and Telco was gearing up to go solo. Maira was responsible for finding the right people, and foster teamwork.
Those were tense times, with some distrust in the abilities of the “first-timers”. Inevitably it soon led to a violent confrontation between the manager of the new foundry they were setting up and the general manager.
That’s when Maira learnt his first lesson in the transformative power of deep listening. “To think and work together, [people had] to learn to listen to each other.”
In a conversation with Charles Assisi and NS Ramnath, Maira dives deep into that theme. “That ability is important for a leader; it impacts the quality of their decisions,” he says. He turns the gaze inward to examine why it is tough to just listen (his own defensive responses would get in the way).
To give you a peek into some of the things he discusses: This neglected leadership skill can bolster trust and engage employees. It can help leaders understand the nuances of a complex situation, make decisions that are fair and right, and find workable solutions despite divisive voices.
But it’s not about quick fixes or a formulaic approach to “solving”.
In keeping with our charter, this is a dialogue with a thought leader that explores his thoughts and ideas. It adds context and perspective that is not readily available. And you can expect more such conversations that push the needle that much more. All I’ll say for now is, the 90 minutes I spent listening are the most fruitful 90 minutes I’ve spent in recent times.
One of the questions Maira dwells on is the whole technology versus humanities argument for understanding the evolving reality. Yes, technology is disruptive. But a tech lens is insufficient to see the big picture.
In that vein, do read Charles’s two essays: A charming story on why he’s not afraid of artificial intelligence trumping humans anytime soon and why he’s confident trustworthy voices will not die out despite the cacophony on social media.
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With that, I wish you a great week ahead.
On behalf of Team Founding Fuel
In this podcast, Arun Maira dwells on how listening without judgement can help leaders understand the big picture and improve the quality of their decisions. (By Charles Assisi and NS Ramnath. Play Time: 91 minutes)
That artificial intelligence is here to stay seems a given. But Garry Kasparov and I believe we aren’t going any place. My little girls need us. (By Charles Assisi. Read Time: 7 mins)
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