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How can you be an effective leader who listens? Well, it begins with talking less, but that just seems too obvious. What are you listening for or to and how long do you listen, as well as what type of training is available to improve one’s listening skills are the questions I am asked most often in Contagious Leadership training courses. So let’s start with the first:
What Do You Listen For?
Each team member you have the privilege of leading will communicate in ways that are likely different, even slightly, than yours. Listen for cues that may tell you they are unhappy or overloaded. Listen for cues that will tell you what kind of recognition style they have or how they may need coaching or in what area they may need coaching. These are subtly different than listening for all the ways in which they are doing things wrong and that difference is important. If you listen to what they need you may be able to proactively reduce or eliminate the things that then are shared with you as “uh ohs” or things that went wrong.
How Long Do You Listen?
This question most often comes from Commanders whose eyes will glaze over if you talk more than what they think is sufficient or relevant to the point you are trying to make. Listen long enough to allow someone to feel heard. This will be different for different team members and certainly how long you listen will vary according to how much time you have, but are you also making time to listen long enough to a person to help them feel as if their needs have been met? Of course, this also means you might have to stop all the other multi-tasking you might be doing in order to listen well enough to send that message.
What Types of Training are Available for Listening?
We often joke about the fact that there is a ready supply of speaking courses available, but there are not many, if any, listening courses available for leaders. In short, the training for listening is to 1.) Clear your mind and/or your desk 2.) Focus on the other person’s message and intent and 3) Ask questions to ensure you’ve understood the message and the desired outcome. Sometimes even asking a question ahead of time can prove helpful. For example, “Do you want me to listen so you can vent or do you want me to offer solutions?
Want more information or need help?
Go to www.ContagiousCompanies.com and click on Contagious Communication™ or Contagious Leadership™ training and tools. There you will find resources to boost your clear and consistent communication, and leadership listening skills. Maybe it’s time for a Contagious Leadership™ training class or Contagious Communication™ training class before the lack of listening gets out of hand. 😀
Listening is how you show those you have the privilege of leading that they are valuable to you. They are, aren’t they?
I need to control my talking, I never give the other person a chance to express.However I feel that I have to keep the conversation going.How do I learn to listen more.I enjoy your confrences. Jane R.
Hello my friend! Great to hear from you Jane!
Your question is a good one and listening more begins with wanting to hear what the other person has to say and I suppose that really begins with respect of the other person. I happen to know you respect a great many folks, so that is an easy one. Then you build up the confidence in knowing that what you have to say is valuable and that you will get your turn to share it.
Sometimes we interrupt others in an effort to prove what we know or that we already know what they are saying or that we have more knowledge to add. Rather than spending time talking more so than you’d like, based on your comment, spend as much time as you’d like to talk… listening. It is amazing what we can gain when we quiet the voices in our head and really focus on what the other person is saying, as well as what they’re not saying. Make sense?
Have a great day and of course, stay contagious!
Great read. With 28 years of military history under my belt, that sounded very familiar. Listening is a very neglected, but very important leadership skill. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for your feedback 🙂 Are there are other leadership skills you have noticed that are often neglected but are important as well?