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Should staff ever have to shout to be heard by a boss?

Lesley Uren

Financial Times

12 June 2013



Paulett Eberhart, CEO of engineering and technology services firm CDI, told the New York Times she wants staff to pound their “fists on the table” to get her attention if necessary. But should employees ever have to be so demonstrative to get their boss’s attention? 


It is all very well for chief executives to ask for brutal honesty, but if their team members have to resort to table pounding to get their attention then the leader doesn’t have the listening skills needed for the role. 

The ability to listen has been consistently identified as one of the top skills employers look for at all levels, but it is especially critical for those in senior roles. 

Chief executives, who have many demands on their time and attention, need, more than any other leader, to master the art of being present in any conversation. This means engaging beyond the superficial level of the words, ignoring the internal chatter in their heads and really focusing on the speaker. If one gets this level of listening right, any manager should avoid the need for “pounding fists on the table”.

Lesley Uren is a talent management expert at PA Consulting Group 

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