Listening skills are essential to understand and empathize with your team and come up with better solutions.
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Leadership is one of the top human skills as per the economic forum. To become a good leader, there is one skill that could be easily ignored but is essential to master.
Yes, listening is the first step to becoming a good leader. Only if you listen carefully and sincerely, will you be able to understand and empathize with your team and find the best solutions. It is going to help you bond with your team and maintain a trust relationship.
Listening isn’t that hard. That’s what it seems at first. But, it requires more than you think. Most of us have one of the following listening flaws.
Our minds are like free spirits. They sometimes wander off into their own thoughts. This happens when we space out of conversations to which we should have given complete attention.
Whenever the conversation is going in a direction we don’t approve of or feel like the other person is just droning on and on about something unimportant, our minds drift off onto something more interesting.
You should probably remember the topic is of importance to the other person and, as a leader, if you want your team to understand your viewpoint, it is needed to understand theirs first by listening intently.
We all have something to say, which might be important and more interesting. However, listening without interrupting and letting the other person finish their thought process and put forth their point before letting them know your point of view is a much better way to converse.
When you interrupt more than it is required, only to put forth your opinions and thoughts and to take over the entire conversation, you will be marked as someone “difficult to work with.” As a leader, you don’t want that tagline. Leaders need to be more approachable, and your team needs you to recognize and understand them.
Distractions are everywhere. All the notification chimes on computers and cell phones are major distractions in our lives.
While having discussions, these distractions make the other person feel unimportant and neglected. As a leader, it is your job to appreciate your team and build trust, and being distracted during a conversation doesn’t make the cut for a good leader.
Now that we know the unnoticed flaws in our listening, we need to put some work into making ourselves a better listener and a better leader.
Listening is a skill, and like any other skill, listening can be improved with practice. It needs time and effort to become a good listener.
Related: The 4 Levels of Listening: Why Every Good Entrepreneur Should Talk Less
Steps to improve
Before a meeting or one-on-one discussion, it’s important to prepare, make up your mind on improving your listening skills. If required, take notes and make points on which aspect of listening needs improvement. You can choose to focus on one aspect of listening at a time, which will make the process more streamlined. For example, you could start with the “no distractions” rule. Make sure you put your phone and all notifications in silent mode so you don’t get distracted by the unnecessary dings.
This happens during the meetings and conversations. Active listening doesn’t only consist of listening without interrupting and making sure you do the umms & ahs. Instead, active listening requires the conversation to be a two-way dialogue. You should ask genuine questions concerning the discussion and make effective suggestions as and when required. If you feel like you did something you would like to improve next time, make a mental note of it and use it to reflect and improve, which brings on to the last step.
Related: Why Good Listening Is a Critical Skill for Founders and Entrepreneurs
3. Reflect and Improve
After every meeting or discussion, note down all the points that went well and things that need improvement. The things that went well will help you see the progress over time, which will provide the boost to continue making further progress. The things in the improvement section are what you need to work on for the next time.
Related: 5 Ways Listening Grows Your Business
True leaders are sought after. They can make work teams do real teamwork by listening intently to what the team needs, building trust relationships and making the people feel appreciated.