Audio-Pilot: The Listening Leader and Navigational Leadership

2 min readSep 10, 2021
Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash

Workplace “pilots”, aka, Leaders, should do more listening than talking. Sharing similar responsibility with aviation pilots, these Leaders are carefully selected with the responsibility to the “souls”, or employees onboard. When they do communicate, it’s about what they are doing, the current position or direction and a timely and relevant report out of their vision and perspective.

Active and intentional listening is a critical skill to master as a Leader. They collaborate and cooperate effectively with the “co-pilot” and other Leaders to help to maintain course. The process of active listening involves receiving, understanding, evaluating, remembering and responding.

Workplace pilots are held accountable to demonstrate the poise and acumen to remain calm under pressure and to make use of incomplete or limited information and appropriately translate it in meaningful ways. A value technique to being an effective Listening Leader, is to offer affirmative and affirming statements and asking questions when communicating.

At the start of onboarding, employees are making assumptions about the skill and quality of the Leader even before takeoff. Being responsive, alert, and clear, are key demonstrations to establish trust and confidence in Navigational Leadership. The Listening Leader can balance the art of listening and the science of navigating, at an appropriate altitude; being among the passengers while leading from a perspective that is not widely shared.

The desired and intended result is for a smooth and safe arrival and departure as Leaders navigate to move the organization forward. While the responsibility lies heavily on the workplace pilot, it must always be a collaborative and collective effort of the entire crew to consider the following:

  1. Reduce ambient noise, and unnecessary distractions;
  2. Normalize “Turbulence”. Every transition may not be smooth and often you can’t change the environment, only how you navigate it;
  3. Avoid Jetlag! Prioritize self-care, stay rested and in rhythm;
  4. Autonomy at the right Altitude. Be patient in the take-off and while seated, learn the procedures to stay safe and aware. When cleared, move freely about the cabin!

Roger Wilco. “Received, will comply.”




Human-being Activist & Author. People watcher and conversation starter. INFJ unicorn. Storyteller. Unapologetic Black Woman.