Are You a Good Listener? It's Vital to Your Leadership Success
Research shows on average people listen for a mere 7 seconds before interrupting.
As a leader, being a good listener means you must be deliberate in your approach. You have to practice listening in order to excel at it. Doing it well means your team will perform more effectively. In fact, listening is one of the top 10 skills high-performing leaders use in all of their daily interactions.
Can you recall the last time someone was truly attentive and paid you 100% attention as you voiced a concern or gave input on a project?
This is not a trick question. I want you to really think about it.
When was the last time you had someone hang on your every thought and word before they offered an opinion or comment? I have observed virtual and workplace discussions where people talk at each other vs. engaging in a two-way dialogue.
You could argue that listening belongs under the heading or category of communication. It does fit there, too, but I want to draw your attention to why listening is so important and powerful to your organization’s success.
Listening is critical to your employee’s growth and development.
If you hold yourself in the position of leadership or influence, it is critical that you listen to your people. Stop spoon-feeding them answers when they come to you for advice or support. This is counter-productive to their overall development. Ask empowering questions and then take a back seat and listen to what they have to say.
Active listening drives employee engagement. I don’t need to tell you how important employee engagement is – it depends on every leader in the business possessing a strong ability to communicate and to actively listen.
Imagine an organization where management really listened to what their employees and customers had to say. That is what differentiates high-performing organizations from those that struggling to achieve their goals and objectives. People want to be heard, so step up and listen intentionally.
Effective, authentic listening sends a message of value. How do you feel when someone pays attention to what you are saying, and not just nodding in agreement?
We ask this question in the listening component of all our leadership programs, and we hear things like: “It feels good.” “It makes me happy.” “It shows they care.”
If you want to show your people and those around you that they are valued members of your organization, then listen to what they have to say. This is important, even at those times when you might not agree with their perspective.
Here are three simple tips on how to become a more effective listener:
- Stop multi-tasking. When someone comes to you, regardless of whether communication is virtual or in-person, stop what you are doing and pay attention to the individual. If the time is not right for you, then suggest a time that would be better where you can offer 100% of your attention. Make sure whether you are speaking with one person or a team, that you put away your device, stop typing away on your computer and pay attention. You simply cannot effectively do two things at once, and it is disrespectful to the parties involved.
- Replay their message in your mind. Listening is a skill that needs to be developed. So if you are easily distracted by your own thoughts or by things that are happening around you, ensure you replay key phrases or words others have said, as this will help bring you back in focus to what is being shared. In fact, restating the key things you heard will also show to others that you really are listening.
- Write down your questions or thoughts. This will help prevent you from interrupting someone else’s thought process while they are speaking to you. How many times have you been interrupted halfway through a thought and then you cannot recall what it is that you wanted to share? You will have your turn to speak or ask questions after they are done. Writing down a few key words or questions will ensure that you do not forget.
I want to leave you with a personal challenge: Start to observe conversations, pay attention to what is happening in the in-person or virtual meetings you are attending, and you will see what I am describing.
I also challenge you to start actively listening to those around you. That means putting down your device or shutting down distracting apps and focusing on the person or people you are engaging with. It will start to change the way people view you and how you make them feel.
Let’s Talk About Listening
High performing leaders are great listeners. Are you? What are your thoughts? Have you mastered the art of active listening? What suggestions or tips do you have to foster an environment where two-way dialogue thrives?
Please let us know what you think. I am here and available to support your leadership success so give me a call at 1.855.871.3374 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you!