When we consider what it takes to be a great leader, often times the first thing that comes to mind is the ability to be a good speaker. To be able to convey ideas, share a vision and direct the course of the team towards the desired goals is absolutely a plus for leaders, however it more important for leaders to be great listeners.
A leader who’s focused on speaking rather than listening cannot properly represent the needs of those they purport to lead.
A leader who speaks without listening, may actually have no one listening to him/her.
“If you think you’re leading and no one is following you, you’re just taking a walk.” (Afghan proverb)
A leader who listens before speaking:
- Fosters a cooperative environment and true team spirit by allowing members of the team to share their ideas, concerns and goals.
- Creates better buy-in from the team towards the desired objectives, having taken the needs of the group into consideration.
- Is able to put their ego aside and recognize the value that the ideas and opinions of the people they are leading bring to the vision and the goal.
Being a great listener is one of the highest forms of respect. When you give your total attention and time to another person (especially in this multi-media, instant messenger world), they feel valued and appreciated – the foundations for solid relationships.
Tips for Better Listening:
- Look into the eyes of the person you’re speaking with.
- Be excited and eager to learn something new from the other person.
- Resist the urge to look over their shoulder or to the side to see who’s coming in next.
- When your mind starts to drift away from what they’re saying, simply notice it and gently bring your attention back to the other person.
- Turn off your “Already, Always” way of listening. (i.e. “I already know what Bobby is going to say” or “I’ve already learned how to be a good listener” and “Betsy is always complaining about her husband” or “Bill always says the same thing.) When we enter a conversation with a pre-conceived notion of what the other person is going to say, we run the risk of missing out on learning something new.
- If you’re trying to win an argument or prove your point, consider (even if just for a moment) that the other person may actually have a point as well!
Whether you’re leading your family, a team at work or leading yourself to build and grow your business, remember to listen before speaking. You and those you lead will be greatly rewarded!
NOTE: I will be starting a 6 Week Leadership Mastermind Series in June (via teleconference).
If you would like to apply to be part of this exclusive Leadership Mastermind Group email: Nancy@NancyMatthews.com.