Want to become a better leader? Stop talking and start listening. According to a great article by Mike Myatt at www.forbes.com, “The best leaders are proactive, strategic, and intuitive listeners. They recognize knowledge and wisdom are not gained by talking, but by listening.” In today’s age of instant communication, everyone seems to be in a rush to communicate what is on their mind and they fail to listen and gleam from the minds of others.
To be a great leader, you must be a great communicator. The purpose of communication is not to message, but to engage and this requires listening. You must listen to your customers, competitors, your peers, your subordinates, and to those that care about you. Ask people how to become a better leader and then listen.
In Myatt’s article “Why Most Leaders Need to Shut Up and Listen”, he shares 6 tips to becoming a better listener.
1. It’s not about you: Stop worrying about what you’re going to say and focus on what’s being said. Don’t listen to have your opinions validated or your ego stroked, listen to be challenged and to learn something new. You’re not always right, so stop pretending you know everything and humble yourself to others. If you desire to be listened to, then give others the courtesy of listening to them.
2. You should never be too busy to listen: Anyone can add value to your world if you’re willing to listen. How many times have you dismissed someone because of their station or title when what you should have done was listen? Wisdom doesn’t just come from peers and those above you – it can come from anywhere at anytime, but only if you’re willing to listen. Expand your sphere of influence and learn from those with different perspectives and experiences – you’ll be glad you did.
3. Listen to non-verbals: People say as much (if not more) with their actions, inactions, body language, facial expressions, etc., as they do with their verbal communications. Don’t be lulled into thinking that because someone is not saying something they’re not communicating. In fact, most people won’t overtly verbalize opposition or disagreement, but they will almost always deliver a very clear message with their non-verbals.
4. Listen for opportunity: Intuitive listeners are looking for the story behind the message, and the opportunity beyond the issue. Listening is about discovery, and discovery cannot only impact the present, but it can also influence the future.
5. Let listening be your calling card: One of the best compliments you can be paid is to be known as a good listener. Being recognized in this fashion will open doors, surface opportunities, and take you places that talking never could. Listening demonstrates that you respect others, and is the first step in building trust and rapport.
6. Recognize the contribution of others: One of the most often overlooked aspects of listening is thanking others for their contributions. If you glean benefits from listening to someone, thank them. Even if no value is perceived, thank them for their time and input. Never forget to acknowledge those who contribute energy, ideas, actions or results. Few things go as far in building good will as recognizing others.
What great tips to apply to leadership and life in general! I can’t think of a relationship that I could not make better by applying these ideas and becoming a better listener.