Lesson Plan

Each individual classroom session is designed as a roadmap through the 8-, 10- or 16-week term. 

Listening Comes First.  For use in a graduate-level course exploring the character traits that define a leader. 

 Theory:  The speed at which society now operates has decreased our ability to listen constructively to one another.  This inability to organize our lives and values in a way that engages in meaningful listening leads to a deep disconnection from ourselves (intuitive listening) and disconnection from every person in our circle of influence and society at large.  We have limited ability to listen past what we expect people to say and dig deeply into constructive dialogue. 

Previously Covered Material:  This lesson would be 1/3rd in to the term length and begin a series of lessons that resolve around Servant-Leadership, whether explicitly defined or leadership et. al.  We will have spent constructive time creating projects that define what society thinks of as a leader, identifying shared characteristics of both an ineffective (poor) leader and effective (good) leader.  We will have completed our first small group project selecting a poor leader, analyzing their characteristics and offering consultative ideas to educate said leader on effective leadership.  We will have set up Open Space Learning with large easel pads discussing four questions:  1) Qualities of an effective leader are… 2) The best thing about being a leader is… 3) Leaders are a problem when… 4) The toughest part about being a leader is…



Brown, B. (2018). Dare to lead: Brave work, tough conversations, whole hearts. New York, NY: Random House.

Keith, K. M. (2015). The Case for Servant Leadership. Atlanta, GA: Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership.

Ferch, S. R., Spears, L. C., McFarland, M., & Carey, M. R. (2015). Conversations on servant-leadership: Insights on human courage in life and work. Albany, NY: Suny Press.



 Scharmer, O. (Writer). (2015). Levels of Listening [Video file]. Retrieved February 13, 2019, from https://www.presencing.org/resource/tools/listen-desc

5 Ways to Listen Better [Video file]. (2011). Retrieved February 13, 2019, from https://www.ted.com/talks/julian_treasure_5_ways_to_listen_better

Goals & Objectives:

1.     Student will be able to discern different levels of listening and discuss with examples.

2.     Student will be able to articulate the role of listening within constructive dialogue.

3.     Student will be able to identify systemic cultural issues (i.e. social media, texting, culture of busy-ness) and create innovative ways of meaningful yet brief dialectic patterns that invite individual change. 

4.     Student will be able to lead a small group conversation from a level one listening to level three- or four- listening. 

Out of Class Work:

1.     Student will be prepared to present a 3-minute description of an effective and ineffective leader and provide three supporting resources within course texts.  

2.     Students will watch 8:25 minute video with Dr. Otto Scharmer on listening (https://www.presencing.org/resource/tools/listen-desc)

3.     Students will create a login to www.presencing.org and keep a daily log of listening for one-week prior to section on listening.  https://www.presencing.org/resource/tools/listen-assess

Time Frame:  two 90-minute sections. 

Key Concept:  People have lost the ability for generative, meaningful listening.  This has led to disconnection, emotional distress, loneliness, superficiality and the results of an unexplored life. 

This section will introduce the practice of listening, tools to improve listening and analysis of listening as a reflective muscle to be exercised daily.

Resource Materials:

Students will bring in a log of their daily listening log for 7-days and daily paragraph-length reflection on the day’s results.


1.     Students will be split into small groups of 3- or 5- students each to practice generative listening and offer constructive, event-specific responses.

2.     Teacher will provide a 10-15-minute slideshow lecture highlighting textual examples of listening in leadership roles. 

3.     Class will be split into four groups.  Students will create a 5-minute role play that highlights each level of listening.  Between each level of listening, students will constructively offer feedback 1) how to respond as a leader when faced with that level of listening and 2) shifting that level of listening from one stage to the next. 

4.     Debriefing and commitment:  Students will debrief their thoughts on the importance of listening as a generative practice.  Students will make a personal commitment to continue shifting from their current level of listening to a deeper generative listening in situation-appropriate scenarios. 

Summary:  The most foundational characteristic of being a good leader is listening to the people who are being led and invite co-creative engagement.  Listening is a life-long practice that is never stagnant and requires regular intention.  Listening is not something a student learns and is permanently part of the leadership toolbox.  Listening is a lifelong practice that never stagnates and requires ongoing, regular intention.