Over the years, we’ve seen our share of leaders who have led by dictating. They have little to no interest in hearing the ideas, feedback or – gasp! – criticism of their workers. They are the leaders, after all, the anointed ones who have been chosen to lead the flock. All direction, wisdom, and brilliant ideas must come from them.
Fortunately, this ‘iron fist’ approach to leadership is rapidly going by the wayside, as organizations come to recognize the value that can be gained by having two-way dialogues with the workforce. Thus, listening skills have become a valued asset in today’s business environment, particularly for leaders.
Former Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca once said, “Listening can make the difference between a mediocre company and a great one.” Indeed, leadership experts, like Tom Peters, suggest that it’s impossible to excel as a leader today if you are not an effective listener. Peters, who authored the best-selling “In Search of Excellence”, strongly believes that “strategic listening” is critical.
Why is listening such a vital skill for leaders? And what exactly can be gained by listening to colleagues, employees, and managers?
Being an effective leader means being a great communicator. But since when has communication been a top-down proposition? True communication is a two-way street. Sure, that means orating, but it also means listening.
When you, as a leader, take the time to listen, particularly to an employee, it shows that individual you have respect for them. You are genuinely interested in their ideas and want to hear their insights and ideas. Even when an issue is heated or the employee has less-than-positive feedback to share, the conversation is a productive one because you as leader have cultivated a trusting, respectful relationship that generates honesty and ingenuity.
Not only will you benefit from the helpful feedback they have to offer, but they will have more respect and trust for you in return. The result will be a far more engaged and effective workforce that is motivated to do the best job they possibly can do. And you have inspired them because you took the time to really listen.
Think of it in terms of an orchestra. Any maestro can wave a baton, but those who cultivate trust and respect are those for whom the orchestra is inspired to soar to new heights.
For assistance building your leadership skills, contact High Profile Staffing today.