Research shows that good Leaders are good listeners. Even though business people recognise that listening is one of the most important skills for an effective professional, there is hardly any emphasis on training to be an active listener. To be able to listen with an open mind, without becoming defensive or emotional, requires a certain degree of self awareness. There are studies to show that confident, secure people are better at listening. A good reason for people to focus on this skill is, that staff, colleagues, clients and stakeholders, are more likely to listen to them. If you listen and take other people's ideas seriously, they will feel valued, and you will inspire loyalty. Without this, you will have little or no respect as a leader.
It is only through listening can you know what's troubling your employees, to help them get out of a performance slump.
Listening goes well beyond being quiet and giving someone your full attention. It requires you to be aware of your body language, facial expressions and general behaviour. Employees want to be led by those who genuinely care about who they are and what they bring to the team and the organisation. Don't just view your employees as tools and resources for your own success, but as valuable assets who bring unique capabilities.
Beyond caring, engage yourself in matters important to your employees. When they share opinions, ask genuine questions, and ask them to elaborate.
The workplace is fueled with the stress and pressure of each day. Express your concern and show your employees that you feel their frustrations. Empathy is a powerful display of listening. Great leaders know how to balance the head and the heart.
Leaders that judge are not listening. When they judge they expose their immaturity and inability to embrace differences. Being non judgemental is the key to adapting to change.
Leaders who are mindful listen to verbal and non verbal. They are always present in the present, very mindfully, while making continuous eye contact.
Compassionate leaders don't interrupt the flow of dialogue. They believe in two way communication which earns them respect from their peers. Staying in the moment and focussing on what is being said, communicates respect.
Some helpful tips to becoming an Active Listener:
Look people in the eye. Put away laptops and cell phones.
Create space in the day, and don't have engagements the entire day. Slowing down and taking an extra second is how you connect.
Learn to ask more questions to communicate interest instead of a quick reply to an advice asked. Of course exceptions are always there and some people may actually require guidance and not just validation.
Even in a world of limitless, instantaneous, global connection,the most powerful mode of communication is that of two people listening. Connection is not based on how much time we spend with someone or what we do with them, connection is always based on the quality of presence.