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Dissertation Abstract

Listening and Leadership: An Investigative Study into the Listening Practices of United States Coast Guard Enlisted Officer's in Charges

James K. Ellis
Regent University

The need for effective leadership is undisputed. What is unknown is the role of listening in leadership. Listening has been identified as the primary communication skill, in two senses of the word. It is primary because it is (a) the first communication skill acquired and (b) in comparison with speaking, reading, or writing, it is used more often the greater part of each day. The premise of this study was that leadership requires competent listening behaviors. The focus of this study was to investigate the listening behaviors of Coast Guard enlisted leaders who are known as Officers in Charge (OIC). Coast Guard OIC are unique in that they epitomize the combination of “leader-manager” as few others do. This study investigated the reported listening practices of OIC compared to their subordinates' perception and sought to answer the question, “Are the listening practices of OIC different based on age, length of time as an Officer in Charge, length of time on active duty, education, formal leadership /management training?” The objective was twofold, first it was to understand more about the role and importance of listening in leadership and to identify listening as important to leadership. Secondly, it was to reinforce the idea that communication is more than the delivery of information but most importantly, it is the receiving of information through listening that is fundamental to the success of an organization, its leadership, and individual member's. This study identified the independent variables of age, length of time as an OIC, length of time on active duty, and education as statistically significant for the listening practices of response and memory respectively.