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?