Research Outline

Listening with Impact


To provide stories that are balanced across time, gender, history, and context about listening with impact.

Early Findings

Charles William Eliot

  • Charles William Eliot was Harvard's president between 1869 to 1909.
  • According to the Journal of International Education and Leadership, Dr. Eliot "listened with his mind," he attentively considered what someone else had to say. In this respect, Eliot acted as "a change agent by developing transformational leadership in the members within the college’s own hierarchy."
  • Charles William Eliot's idea of "conversation was that two individuals should alternatively speak and listen. When his turn came he listened, and his listening was not mere silence it was a form of activity. He listened with his ears, and cocked his head lest anything escape him."
  • His effective listening philosophy altered Harvard's culture, people within it, and also those outside the organization. According to the Journal of International Education and Leadership, "witnessing the academic atrocities that were being committed against the students, faculty, and society during the antebellum, Civil War, and post-bellum period as a student, tutor, and professor, Eliot gained a pragmatic perspective of the actions that were necessary."
  • Eliot's leadership brought about the end of the rigid curriculum at Harvard and opened the way for the specialized study that dominates American higher education.