In the last blogpost, I shared that leadership means being accountable, responsible and willing to take action. Today, I am focusing on a particular “take action” tool: the art and skill of listening. A key element by any measure. In fact, if you ask me, it’s the most powerful tool a leader has.
Why and how is listening so important? The answer is two-fold. The first part is understanding that I mean listening both to yourself and others and hearing what’s being said. For example, with co-workers and colleagues, it can translate into getting feedback from others AND listening to yourself. The goal is to take in whatever suggestions contribute best to your growth and development, then consider the rest for later on, should it apply.
The second part in the world of listening is being sure you’re also tuned into the unsaid. For example, I’ve seen an instance where a staff member repeatedly delayed completion on quick-turnaround assignments. It turns out it wasn’t because they were incapable of completing the tasks as requested. Rather, it was because they were receiving concurrent requests from other departmental managers and were self-conscious about sharing it with their manager, due to feeling overwhelmed and being uncertain about how to prioritize.
They may have been expressing their angst but not in such precise terms. Your honed listening comes in when amidst the employee’s discomfort, you’re able to “hear” their issue; confirm it with the employee offering them validation; and then specifically addressing it. It makes all the difference!
What’s more, exercising and making listening a regular tool you employ at work — and as a leader — offers added benefits. It will also naturally show you to be more approachable and effective as a manager… A tool and skill definitely worth trying out!