Leaders: Listen Up!
As a leader, you must know yourself well — your purpose, your values, your priorities. Others will follow when you earn their respect and trust and one of the most effective ways to do that is to listen — to really listen to others when they speak to you.
Listening to others deeply to understand the meaning of what they are saying conveys respect and regard. It also helps to create a powerful interpersonal connection that is so important to a leader.
Understand the Meaning of What is Being Said
A person who is speaking is the only one who really knows what he or she is trying to convey. If that person is forthcoming and open, a listener has an excellent opportunity to learn about that person. By creating a safe emotional space for that exchange, the listener also allows connection and trust to develop. An attentive listener will also be on the lookout for non-verbal communication because meaning is not always clearly articulated with words.
Thinking is a much faster process than listening, providing the listener with “free-time.” His or her effectiveness as a manager is determined by how this time is used. For instance, attitudes or judgments about the speaker, the topic, their presentation, and physical appearance can impact the listener’s bias, Additionally, external considerations such as the environment and circumstances, sound and physical comfort, also influence the listener’s attention and focus. Finally, is the listener paying attention, distracted, tired or stressed?
People Need People
As a leader, you must accomplish your goals through the efforts of others and they need to have a reason to follow you. What’s in it for them? People need to understand your purpose and trust you before they will commit to your agenda. Meet them where they are. Learn what matters and motivates them by listening deeply.
Listen first! Then, seek to understand. It’s important that you talk with people, not at them.