Don’t Underestimate Listening as a Leadership Tool
By Alan Olsen
Are you a good listener? If you’re a leader and you haven’t mastered the skill of listening, then chances are your leadership skills need some improvement. One of the key components to becoming a great leader is being able to build trust. If people don’t trust you they won’t follow you. As a leader, everything you do is closely watched. Your actions and your words will either build trust or diminish it. One of the best ways to build trust is to become a good listener.
The Importance of Listening
Not everyone is born with great listening skills. In fact, most good listeners have to develop them over time. What’s more, many leaders don’t recognize the importance, or value, of good listening skills. That can be costly. Being able to listen helps those you work with feel safe. They feel respected and valued and they are more likely to give you 100 percent. Being a poor listener creates a lack of trust, which leads to a lack of engagement. This creates a work environment that’s unstable and less productive.
Becoming a better listener doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and practice. To become a better listener you have to start by asking the right questions. Then, you have to focus on what’s really being said.
Good listeners ask questions because they truly want to learn. They don’t ask questions solely for the sake of asking questions. Asking questions helps you learn about important things that apply to your business. It also helps you getto know your team and how they work.Good listeners also ask a lot of questions so they know the areas that need improvement. They listen to the responses so they understandwhat things they need to focus on, and what things they need to be teaching their team. Good listeners also ask questions as a way to show respect for their team. It allows team members to feel important and to play a role in key decisions. Thisreinforces their value to the company.
It Takes Time
Another key component of good listening is time. In fact, it can often be the most important factor. When you feel rushed or under pressure you are less likely to practice good listening skills. You’re more likely to focus on your own problems or duties instead of giving another person yourfull attention. In order to be a good listener you have to make time to listen. That means whenever possible schedule moments with your team members when you can be free of distractions and focus on them, and what they’re saying. In other words, listen to them.
Ask for Feedback
Another great way to improve and use your listening skills is by seeking feedback as often as possible. This demonstrates humility and an attitude of wanting to learn. Honestly seeking feedback from your team, especially regarding your performance, will help build trust. It will also demonstrate that you care about them and their opinions.
Listening Is a Must
Becoming a good listener takes time and effort. But it’s a skill that cannot be overlooked if you desire to become a better leader.