Listening is the most important skill a leader can master. It is the basis of so many other skills and traits that make up a leader. However, it is a tough skill to master as it requires us to be more present, attentive, engaged, open and flexible. Good listening skills in this digital era, due to information overload and shortened attention span, is fast becoming an endangered species. Listening involves paying and making nonverbal cues, appropriate to what is being said.
Many of us are guilty of starting a conversation and putting a thought or question out there, but we don’t give ourselves a chance to listen to what others have to say because we never stop talking, or we are so busy formulating our reply to what we assume they will say. Don’t just listen with the outer ear but with the inner ear. Listen with the intent to hear and understand.
The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said. – Peter Drucker
Listening forms the foundation of good relationships. Why? Because it shows you care. Empathy and listening go hand in hand. You can’t display empathy or emotional intelligence if you do not listen. The quality of our listening determines the quality of our influence. Employees want to be heard and they want to be respected. Listening transmits that kind of respect and builds trust. This leads to more motivated and committed team members.
On average, we retain just 25 percent of what we hear, which is because of our busyness and lack of listening skills. What is your speaking to listening ratio? Listening is crucial to gaining a complete understanding of situations. Without this full understanding, one can easily waste everyone’s time by solving the wrong problem or merely addressing a symptom, not the root cause.
Titans as Blackberry, Kodak and Nokia have paid the price for leaders who refused to listen. Their leaders operated in a bubble and engaged in group think. The greater your success, the more you need to stay in touch with fresh opinions and perspectives and welcome honest feedback. Listening is the best way to know about your clientele needs to create a successful strategy. Raw truth is needed to make well-informed decisions and steer the organization in the right direction. Good leaders are active listeners.
” Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.” –Andy Stanley
It’s no secret that knowledge and wisdom are not gained by talking, but by listening. Listening includes listening to that “still inner small voice”. If something is wrong, just don’t try to justify it. Even if you get away with it for a time, eventually the piper must be paid. True integrity starts with listening.
As a leader, your job is to encourage others around you to be open and honest without a negative consequence. Listening leads to personal awareness and growth. If you do not listen, you will not grow. Additionally, when employees offer their ideas and differing opinions – be open-minded. It is always valuable to listen to your employees. The ground reality is very different from what you may think. It’s more realistic and practical
Poor communication comes with a high price tag. It accounts for businesses losing millions of dollars each year. Companies that remain strong in this competitive market, understand the need to embrace change and continuous improvement. More than ever, leaders will need to master the skill of “Lead with Listening.” The success of your business will depend on it!