Updated: Nov 18, 2022
My thanks to Taz Ahmad for another guest blog on leadership.
In this blog, Taz considers the importance of being an active listener. A common failing of many leaders, especially new ones, is to wrongly think that they have to do all or at least most of the talking. The whole point of leadership is to engage people to follow you in pursuit of a worthwhile goal. It is difficult to create such engagement if you are not prepared to listen!
Here is the blog:
A Good Leader Is Always A Great Listener!
One of the most important traits of a good leader is being a great listener.
In order to be an effective leader, you need to understand what your team is saying, both verbally and nonverbally.
If you're looking for ways to become a better leader, a good place to start is by improving your listening skills!
In this blog post, we will discuss why it matters and how it can help you become a better leader!
Why is Listening Important?
1. Listen to Understand Their Needs and Wants
As a leader, it is important to listen to your team in order to understand their needs and wants.
By understanding what they are saying, you will be able to better lead them and help them achieve their goals (aligning them to your organization's goals).
Listening also forms the foundation when building trust with your team. Every great team has high levels of trust at their core.
2. Listen Because You Value Their Opinions
When you listen to someone, you are showing that you value their opinion and that you are interested in what they have to say.
Being heard helps the team to feel appreciated, and in return, they will be more likely to listen to you when you need them to.
They are also more likely to give you more useful information, even if you have not overtly asked for it.
3. Listen to What They Don't Tell You
As a good leader, it is also important that you listen to what the team members are not telling you directly.
Read their faces. Observe their body language.
Words left unsaid will give you important clues about how they are feeling and what they might be thinking.
4. Listen to Improve Your Company
Always listen to the complaints and feedback of your teams.
Through feedback, you will be able to identify the areas where your company needs to improve.
An occasional, impersonal employee survey is unlikely to surface deep issues since people will (usually correctly), sense that their opinions are not really valued.
5. Listen to Learn from Your Team
As a leader, it is important to continuously learn and grow.
One way to do this is by listening to your team, learning from their experiences and giving them permission to (appropriately) provide constructive feedback on your own performance.
By listening to their stories, you will be able to gain new perspectives and knowledge that you can apply in your own leadership journey.
6. Listen to Develop Trust with Team
Finally, listening is essential to develop trust with your team members (this is so important it is deliberately repeated here!).
If your team members feel that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say and that you value their opinion, they will be more likely to trust you as their leader. This does not mean that you will always act on their messages, only that you will show that you have truly heard and considered those messages.
So, if you're looking to become a better leader, one of the things to consider is how you can become a better listener!
Your team will appreciate it and they will be far more likely to listen to and engage with you. this can only help you in your role as a leader.
Tips to Improve Your Listening Skills
Now that we've discussed the importance of listening, let's talk about how you can improve your listening skills!
Here are some tips:
1. Always Pay Attention
Pay attention to what the other person is saying.
Even though this seems obvious, it's important to actually focus on the words that the other person is saying, rather than thinking about what you're going to say next or 'zoning out'.
2. Put Yourself in His/Her Shoes
Try to understand the other person's point of view.
We tend to view the world in a particular way and that can filter our perceptions. Actively seeking to understand an alternative point of view may generate new ideas and, at the very least, will show that you care about the person/people in front of you.
3. Do Not Interrupt
Whenever possible, don't interrupt the other person.
This can be difficult, especially if you're eager to share your own opinion or want to move on to something else quickly.
When advisable, letting the other person continue and helping them to think through their position will help them to address similar issues and opportunities better in the future (and will thus save you time as well).
4. Ask Questions
If you're not sure about something that the other person said, ask them to clarify.
Doing so shows that you're actually listening and that you care about understanding what they're saying.
You can also use well-timed questions to appropriately summarise and move on.
5. Repeat if Necessary
Summarise and repeat what the other person said to show that you were not only paying attention but that you understand what they said.
It also allows the other person to correct you if you misunderstood anything.
So, if you are looking to improve your leadership skills, don't forget the importance of active listening!
By following these tips, you can start improving your listening skills today!
My thanks again to Taz.
Tools such as SDI2.0 and DiSC can be very helpful in empowering our listening skills: they show how people are motivated, how they prefer to work, and how they react to conflict and stress.
Such knowledge can help us to be more attuned and focused when using active listening skills.
Please get in touch for more information on these or any of our other services.
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