As a leader, which skill is more important: speaking or listening?
If you said speaking, you’d be right. If you said listening, you’d be even more right!
So yeah, both are important. But leadership listening skills gets wayyyy less attention.
Let’s change that.
Because if you don’t listen the right way, your ability to speak persuasively will be seriously handicapped.
Today I’m giving you my 3 strategies for listening like a leader.
You have probably caught wind by now that listening is just as important as speaking if you want to be an effective leader.
If you are not able to listen, you’re not able to communicate. And if you’re not able to communicate, no one listens. And if no one listens, then you are not able to lead.
Let’s about three ways you can enhance your leadership listening skills to become a more effective leader.
1) Listen Passionately
Most people think that listening is easy. Just sit and look at the person who’s speaking, right? Well, not quite.
The truth is that effective listening is so much more than a passive activity.
If you’re doing it right, listening should be even more work than speaking.
This begins with proving to the speaker that you are engaged in the conversation. This is a combination of body language and strategically timed interjections.
Your face should express the way what they are saying makes you feel.
Did they say something surprising? Raise your eyebrows and say something like “wow!”. Did they speak in an exasperated tone? Nod knowingly and say something like “that sounds frustrating”.
Pay attention to the speaker’s body language and tone of voice. They’ll be giving tons of clues as to how they feel about what they’re saying, which you can then use to respond appropriately.
You should also be taking notes on what they are saying, in your head or even on paper (if it doesn’t feel too formal). This will force you to really listen and identify the most important aspects of what they are saying.
Notes are also great because once there is a natural pause in conversation, you can scan them in order to make an insightful comment or pose a clarifying question.
These types of comments and questions prove that you really were paying attention and that you care about what they are saying.
When someone sees that you care, they are more inclined to listen to you. They’ll see you are invested in them, which increases their trust in you. Trust and a willingness to listen are important traits you want to foster in those you seek to lead.
See, I told you listening wasn’t passive :)
2) Respect Dissenting Opinions
When people come to you with ideas or opinions you may not always agree.
But that doesn’t mean you should ignore them!
Just the opposite.
During times of disaccord and disagreement you should make it a point of listening to them even more closely. Really hear what they have to say.
If you disagree on something, that is a red flag that there is a gap in understanding between you, which is something you’ll want to address ASAP. Keep asking them clarifying questions until you fully understand their point of view. Once you understand where the disconnect is, you can invest time into bridging the gap.
With particularly contentious topics, it’s possible you will not reach a point of agreement.
As long as you’ve proved to them that you can clearly see things from their perspective, you’ve gone a very long way in resolving the matter. They’ll appreciate your interest in their point of view, even if you don’t agree, and that will ensure they continue to hear you out on unrelated topics in the future.
In other words, by taking the time to get on the same page, you’ve reinforced your ability to serve their best interests, which will foster trust and respect.
3) Listen for Needs
As I mentioned in my last video on positively influencing people, being a leader is different than being a boss.
As a leader, you need to understand the needs of those you lead. Why? Because your goal is to empower people to be as productive and happy as they can be.
The most surefire way to do that is to figure out what they need, and then give that to them.
And in order for you to figure out what they need, what do you have to do?
Yep, you guessed. You need to listen to them.
Don’t give them what you want or what you think they want.
Anytime someone asks for something, you should be saying “yay!” on the inside because they just gave you an insight into what is actually important to them.
Make note of what people ask you for, and soon you’ll see a pattern in what people need. Once you’ve figured that out, you can work on ways to serve that need.
You put yourself in a position of power when you are able to deliver on people needs. They are looking to you for help. They will grow to appreciate and respect you when you provide it.
So, there we have it, three powerful steps to becoming a more effective leader through better listening.
Let’s quickly recap:
- Listen passionately. If listening feels easy, you’re doing it wrong.
- Respect dissenting opinions. These are great opportunities to show you are invested in them.
- Listen for what people want, and then give it to them. There are a lot more askers than givers in this world. It’s no surprise the givers are rewarded for their efforts, namely in trust and respect.
Alright Explearners, add these strategies to your Explearning Communications toolkit, try them out and make them your own.
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I’ll see you in my next lesson. 😊 Happy Explearning 🐝