A fundamental tool for listening leaders is taking notes. Although you may periodically take notes when you are on the phone or in meetings, the majority of leaders normally do not take written notes.
The following 6 suggestions are designed to help you improve your note-taking ability:
1. Be prepared and decide whether or not to take notes. Preparation and readiness is the key. Listening leaders are constantly prepared with the simple tools of paper and pencil.
2. Adapt to the speaker’s structure and decide the extent and type of notes to be taken.
3. Learn and use different note-taking systems
4. Keep your notes brief and meaningful.
5. Your notes should be immediately clear at any later review.
6. Review your notes at a later time.
Several years ago, I had the privilege of interviewing Mary Lou Quinlan, the Founder & CEO of Just Ask A Woman. She shared the following experience:
I had a wonderful boss who was responsible for the major operations of a global ad agency. He always had a pad of yellow-lined paper and a pen when he sat down with someone. He always took notes as the other person spoke, and I must tell you what a positive effect that had. As he took notes I always thought, “He’s really listening; he cares what I have to say, so I better say smart and worthwhile things.” As he listened and took careful notes, he was in a position to follow up in a meaningful way, which was the best listening acknowledgement of all.
The bottom line is that note-taking is a positive listening habit. Better Listening = Better Leadership.