We often discuss leadership as a way to communicate a message, direct a team through a plan, or display a vision to followers. However, despite all of this (which is fundamental) for leadership, there is still a missing piece that prevents average leaders from becoming exceptional.
Yes, it involves effective communication but not the way you might think. Today more than ever, we need to implement active listening in our portfolio. This is the thing, as leaders, we tend to talk too much in meetings that we forget that most of our answers rely on actually listening to our teammates’ ideas and train of thought when expressing their potential solutions.
With social media ruling our lives, we are becoming less opportunistic in developing our active listening skills and less socially aware of its effect on the workforce as a competitive advantage. As you develop professional relationships, leverage active listening by understanding what’s happening on the other side of the fence.
This is a crucial differentiator of great leaders — listening to understand. But, unfortunately, it’s also fast becoming a rare and forgotten leadership skill. The great ones, you’ll notice, don’t dominate the conversation by talking only about themselves or the task at hand.
Active listening has one specific goal: to find ways to connect with and help the other person succeed. Having your employees’ best interests in mind gives leaders the edge in building trust when it matters most.
People underestimate the power of the excellent leadership skill of active listening. When a person feels that they are listened to, it goes directly to their self-worth. In addition, it validates that employee when someone demonstrates that they care about what concerns them or their ideas and that the other person understands their perspective.
As you identify future leaders to promote to higher ranks within your organization, pay attention to the ones who listen with the intent to help each team member be the best person they can be. Active listening could also be used as an indicator of emerging leaders.
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