One of the greatest skills a leader can have is to help positively impact those around them is the ability to listen generously. Critical listening skills should be put into practice every day. Unfortunately, it tends to become a lost art with the development of quicker, more efficient technologies and business models. With everything from our phones in our hands to the complex digital initiatives organizations may adopt, we can achieve things faster. But when truly working from a place of service and goal to empower and reinforce our teams of highly skilled employees, the human element has to come first.
Whether dealing with our consumers or our internal teams, technology is great, but people seek empathy and human accountability when it comes to problem-solving. They want guidance, reassurance, sometimes they want to air grievances, but the people we work with need to be acknowledged, and they need to feel empowered to discuss ideas back and forth. You’ve got to be able to listen generously, and most importantly, listen to understand in order to find lasting solutions.
Collaboration is Key
In order to consistently deliver your company’s mission and have a clear vision of how you are evolving and where you are going, you have to be ready to listen generously and understand those involved in your business. Your employees, your clients, consumers, stakeholders, etc… Not only will you build a solid foundation for a mutually respectful relationship that can make it through obstacles ahead, but you will empower others to think ahead proactively instead of reactively. It’s a sure-fire way to exceed expectations and promote a healthy reputation for your company.
Solutions lay in the conversations. Building an environment of trust and candor comes from a strong ability to listen. Not everybody is a skilled listener. The key is to listen empathetically. When you put yourself in people’s shoes, you get a moment to be compassionate and understand what needs to happen to find a solution. This helps foster blameless problem-solving when obstacles arise or when mistakes are made.
Communicate with Candor
People usually regard business leaders as people sitting in a position of higher knowledge- the fact is, we do have access to more information. And that information must be shared with candor so that there is mutual understanding. It’s much more productive and empowering to listen well and make proactive decisions together rather than micromanaging situations and trying to drive and control the scenario. The last thing a leader wants to do is create isolation and conflict or undervalue your employees, consumers, and communities. Listening to understand and sharing information with candor helps build mutual respect and empathy and builds a stronger foundation for growth and success.
As leaders, we light the way for others and serve those we lead. Listening to understand is a way to show your fundamental beliefs through actions EVERY DAY. It helps leaders own mistakes, gain insights, give recognition, encourage collaboration, build trust, and shatter fear. Take stock of what kind of listener you are, and work every day to sharpen this vital skill.