“If you fail to listen to those around you,
You will soon be surrounded by people
who have nothing important to say.”
Read that one more time. Aloud. Let it sink in.
About nine years ago I was working through a tough transition with one of our teams. I was spending a lot of time in meetings with this team. I was trying to solve lots of problems. I was working to help them restructure and become a stronger team.
I was doing all the things that I thought good leaders do.
During the process I was constantly checking in with them, trying to be encouraging, casting vision for where we were going, and removing obstacles that had bothered them for a long time. I was working long and hard for this team.
I was giving them all I had.
Throughout the process I would often talk to different members of the team to see how they were doing. Trying to gauge how they thought things were progressing. Wanting to encourage them to hang in there.
I knew it was a tough time.
I thought I was doing a GREAT job.
During one of those meetings, a great leader on my team - someone that I really respected - said, “I don’t feel like you listen to me.”
All I’ve been doing is listening! Do you know how hard I’ve been working for you and for this team?
That’s what thought…here’s what I said, “Tell me what I do that makes you feel that way.”
What she told me that day had a great impact on me. It wasn’t that I wasn’t giving them time, or asking for their input…it was my body language – my follow-up on what they told me – the look on my face that told them I was already mentally moving on to the next thing.
That was an eye-opening moment for me.
I thought I was doing all of the things that good leaders do. But I learned that the really GOOD leaders – the kind of leaders we all want to be — listen well.
When you listen well to those around you:
* You communicate that you value what they contribute.
* You learn something that you do not know.
* You gain a broader understanding of the situation.
* You benefit from the wisdom of others.
* You get a sense of how people are feeling.
* You create better solutions together than you could ever do alone.
* You attract great leaders to your team.
Great leaders STAY where they are heard!
So if you want to attract and keep great leaders:
* Ask good questions.
* Take notes.
* Clarify by repeating back what you heard.
* Take action.
* Follow-up and follow through with what was communicated.
* Don’t multi-task when someone is talking.
* Be present in the moment.
* Welcome and encourage opposing views.
* Listen with your heart, not just your ears.
* Listen to gain understanding – not just information.
Listening is an important skill that every GOOD leader must have. Be brave. Ask the individuals on your team how you are doing in this area.
If you need to work on it, get serious, and work on it!
If you don’t, you could wake up one day and look at the faces around your meeting table and realize you are surrounded by people with nothing important to say.
Are you a good listener?