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Leadership Thought #346 – Are You Listening?

Most people I know aren’t good listeners. They are more focused on what they think and what they have to say about something rather than actually listening to what’s being said. I have a colleague who states that as a leader you need to “listen until it hurts” and I completely agree with him.  It’s basic human nature that the level of satisfaction any of us have with a given conversation is directly related to how well we feel the other party was actually listening to what we had to say.  Except when we are in a classroom no one really enjoys being lectured to or talked at.

The number one complaint I get when I interview employees is the general sense that there is a lack of good communication.  When you drill down on this issue it’s not so much that important information isn’t being communicated but more a case of the dialogue being a one way street from the top down. For people to feel fully vested in something they need to feel that their voice has been heard in the deliberative process.  They need to feel like their opinion matters in the wide scheme of things.

The best leaders learn how to master the art of effective listening.  They fight their impulse to always dominate the conversation.   Instead of seeing themselves as the go to person on all significant decisions, they learn to ask really good questions, listen to the answers and facilitate constructive dialogue among the affected parties.  They make people feel like their opinion matters.  They also leverage the expertise/talents of others to make sure the best possible decisions are being made weighing all the important variables and other relevant considerations.

Never limit your organization’s capability to what only you know or feel about an issue.  Always strive to broaden your feedback loop and tap into the collective and unique talents of your people including your clients.  I’ve met some very smart people through the years who have only ever gotten so far in their careers because of their inability to listen and learn from others (who they often deem less intelligent than they are).  Life rewards people who listen well and build consensus. It inevitably frustrates people who think they know it all and have the market cornered on good ideas.

One Response

  1. Ed…you have been tagged. I hope you have fun with it.

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