Listening is at the source of all great leadership. It is a core skill, not only for leadership, but for all domains of professional mastery.


“A leaders job today in the 21st century organisation is transforming awareness. The key leadership challenge of our age is to transform ego-system awareness to eco-system awareness, in order to operate in the complexity of this century, we have to do some inner work.”- Otto Scharmer

Otto Scharmer, chair of the MIT IDEAS program for sustainability and cross-sector innovation, helped formulate the now widely used Theory U Process, which significantly enhanced the fields of leadership and innovation, by integrating a deeper dimension of our individual and co-creative humanity. As part of his work of helping leaders cultivate deeper awareness and ability to lead from a different place, he identifies levels of listening and fields of conversation. The following are excerpts from the U.Lab course ‘Leading from the Emerging Future”.


u.lab 1x: Levels of listening (part 1)


u.lab 1x: Levels of listening (part 2)


u.lab 1x: Fields of conversation – part 1


u.lab 1x: Fields of conversation – part 2


Participate in the “Leading from the Emerging Future” online course here.

Learn more about U.Lab: Transforming Business, Society and Self here. The Theory U (2nd Edition) book can also be downloaded in pdf format from this page.

Check out the introductory prerequisite course “Leading in Times of Disruption” here (this can be done FREE).



Otto Scharmer is a Senior Lecturer in the MIT Management Sloan School and founder of the Presencing Institute. He chairs the MIT IDEAS program for sustainability and cross-sector innovation.  Scharmer introduced the concept of presencing”—learning from the emerging future—in his bestselling books Theory U and Presence (the latter co-authored with Peter Senge, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers). He is co-author of Leading from the Emerging Future, which outlines eight acupuncture points for transforming capitalism. His new book, The Essentials of Theory U (2018), outlines an updated summary of the core principles and applications for leading profound systems change.

In 2015, Otto co-founded the MITx u.lab, a massive open online course (MOOC) for leading profound change, which has since activated a global eco-system of societal and personal renewal involving more than 125,000 users from 185 countries. In 2019, he co-founded the Societal Transformation Lab (u.lab-S), involving 350 place-based teams focusing on reinventing education, governance, and our economies in the context of their eco-system.

Otto earned his diploma and PhD in economics from Witten/Herdecke University in Germany. He received the Jamieson Prize for Excellence in Teaching at MIT (2015) and the European Leonardo Corporate Learning Award (2016). In 2018, the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General appointed him to the UN Learning Advisory Council for the 2030 Agenda.  For 2019 he is ranked #3 of the world’s top 30 education professionals by Global Gurus.

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