It’s popular these days to want to become a better leader. Ambitious business executives are becoming increasingly aware of the enormous benefits of strong leadership skills. You influence more, win more trust and engage meaningfully with all those that matter.
However, a common mistake made by most business leaders is their focus on the talking aspect of communication. They tend to want to impress others with their dazzling communication skills.
What they forget to do is simply listen.
Truly great leaders are not just dynamic and strategic; they are also intuitive listeners. They know that the best way to gain wisdom is not by talking incessantly, but by listening to themselves and others on a much deeper level. Such rare individuals are unusually adept at reading between the lines and also have an unusual ability to understand what is NOT being said. They can walk into any room, read the energy and apply the best practice to re-engage even the most unenthused members of a team.
No matter how articulate you are, if your engagement isn’t advancing your vision, developing your team, or otherwise adding value to your stakeholders, then it could be that your ability to listen needs fine-tuning.
Time to stop talking as much and instead create some space to listen. And, as you start listening powerfully, watch your team morale, performance and, ultimately, your business grow.
1. Engage: Good communications are two-way. Don’t speak at or to someone – speak WITH them. Don’t monologue, dialogue.
2. Understand: Listen to understand so you can attune better to what others think, feel and genuinely want to communicate. Develop a sympathetic desire to see the other person’s point of view.
3. Pause: Embrace the silence in any conversation so that you not only signal strength, but become strong. In the pause, you can resist unhelpful outside pressure and better evaluate your responses.
4. Attention: Pay attention to the non-verbal communication of others. Hear with your eyes as well as your ears. Learn to read people accurately behind the words they use so you can choose a stronger response.
5. Opportunity: Every conversation, no matter how difficult, has within it a story and potential opportunity for growth – but, only if you listen for it.
6. Challenge: Learn to embrace and welcome dissent. Listen to those that confront you, challenge you, stretch you and develop you. Because being defensive only raises barriers. Even the most seemingly negative people may have something to teach us. And those we perceive to be our biggest enemy can actually become our strongest ally; but only if we look for common ground.
7. Empathy: Create an atmosphere of belonging, connection and warmth at work. Build people up, never crush them. We are all vulnerable, even the most hardened. Learn to speak to the humanity in others so that you create respect, loyalty and a workplace that everyone loves to be a part of.
Great talkers are a dime a dozen but great listeners are a rare commodity. Listening genuinely and intently to another person is one of the highest compliments you can pay them. So, learn to become a truly great leader who knows the value of listening.