All leaders talk about the importance of communication. Now few would disagree that it is important to be able to get your message across in writing and verbally.
What I notice is that most leaders are exceptionally good at writing and speaking. On the other hand listening is often a much bigger challenge for leaders. Why might that be the case? Well I guess there are a number of reasons.
If you listen you might think that you are giving the impression that you don’t really know about something. Worse still you might feel vulnerable because you cannot come up with all the answers. Maybe you are someone who likes to be the authority on everything, whether you are or not.
Yet let’s consider what impact listening could have on your results, morale and organisational performance.
When leaders listen they gain insights into what is really happening on the ground. They find out about problems, issues and concerns. Armed with these insights they can almost be one step ahead.
When leaders listen they get ideas. You I am sure can come up with good ideas. On the other hand there is a big difference between good ideas and great ideas. I am sure we can all recall times when through the collective ideas of a group we were able to come up with a better solution.
When leaders listen they gain more support. If you look at organisations with higher levels of engagement, what you will usually notice is that there is a lot of effective listening going on.
When leaders listen they gain more respect. Think about it. What type of boss are you going to give most respect to? One that dishes out orders or one that actually involves you, respects you and supports you.
The Bottom Line: Having good listening skills is no longer are optional extra but an essential element of effective leadership.
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