LEADx Success Story: Are You Listening?

Success Story Thomas Koch
Photo: Pixabay/ Kherrmann

At LEADx we love to hear about your achievements! Let’s take a peek into the success story of Thomas Koch, a LEADx listener who turned a flaw into the best quality a leader can have.

“By taking the time to really listen and asking instead of telling, I have managed to remain calm in high stress situations.”—Thomas Koch

A LEADx listener discovers the key to developing his leadership skills is something we often overlook… Are you listening? This is his LEADx success story.

Our day-to-day routines often mean that we get tunnel vision. We become so focused on completing our tasks that we forget that we are a part of a larger whole. We try to keep our heads down to get our work done and soon our world becomes smaller, which often leads to miscommunication with those around us. After all, how we communicate effects our teammates every day, for better or worse. So how can we find ways to become aware of when we're not, well, aware, of those around us?

Success story
Photo courtesy of Thomas Koch

Such was the case with Thomas Koch of Trondheim, Norway. Thomas is a project engineer responsible for drawing schematics for high voltage substation control systems. He found was not cognizant of his impact on those around him and became determined to do better. “I didn’t ‘get’ people with a very different approach to problems than mine,” he writes, “I felt I rarely asked the right questions when talking to customers at work.”

Two Heads Are Better Than One

Since stumbling upon the LEADx Podcast, he began understanding the importance of asking questions, listening, and collaborating on answers. “I have gotten to know a lot more of the obstacles my colleagues face in their work through better questions,” Thomas says, “We have been able to solve problems in a whole different matter due to constructive discussions.”

Understanding the areas where we fall short is the first step to addressing our weaknesses. In Thomas’ case he not only unearthed this perceived flaw, but also took the vital steps to engage with it head on. There’s real value in hearing others’ perspectives, and it’s not just for the sake of clarity, but for the sake of communal success.

Communicating effectively is by far one of the most appreciated traits in a leader, and Thomas is certainly mastering it. “By taking the time to really listen and asking instead of telling, I have managed to remain calm in high stress situations. It has also made me able to pinpoint the sometimes very obvious problem and solution.

One Change Leads To Many

By making an effort to understand his co-workers’ issues and points of view, Thomas is more able to tackle issues with all the information provided. On top of this development, he has started taking note of his accomplishments and task-management. “I am also testing how writing a diary works for me,” he said, “I have to say so far so good, it makes me more aware of how I spend my day and helps me be my best. Writing down a couple of things I’m grateful for every day is really a positive boost.”

Reminding yourself of your progress is integral to pushing through towards your goals. Thomas’ aim is to accrue more of the soft skills required for effective leadership, as well as achieve complete financial independence in the coming years. “By trying out different challenges of the day I am well on my way of building myself a basic toolset of leadership and people skills,” he writes. While he currently doesn’t have a leadership position, Thomas recognizes that leadership starts with the self first, and the more he learns the greater his chances of success in the future.

From The Inside Out

The challenge of looking inward and recognizing where we may fall short is one of the most difficult to master. And yet when we do, we find the remedy itself to be immensely rewarding. Thomas was able to open up communication and improve his problem-solving skills by recognizing the ideas and perspective of his teammates. If that isn’t leadership, then nothing is.

So what is Thomas’ advice for those of us seeking to better ourselves?

“Start asking the question ‘How can I help you?’ Wholeheartedly.”—Thomas Koch

Want YOUR success story featured on LEADx.org? Reach out to Tara@LEADx.org!

Tara has been writing for over 6 years, from stand-up comedy, to think-pieces, to political satire and blog posts. She now writes and edits for LEADx.org, and her door is open to any interested contributors.