Listen to Become a Better Leader
Did you know that one of the best ways to boost employee morale and become a better leader is not only free, but takes just a couple of simple steps? That’s right: shut mouth, open ears, repeat. Listen. We always forget to listen.
Business owners are often extroverted and strong willed. While these may be fantastic qualities for developing a business, they become a hinderance when it comes to accepting new ideas or seeing your blind spots—both of which are critical for long-term success.
If you simply steamroll over every employee thought or concern, then you’re only bringing your business down from the inside, particularly in times of change or upheaval. A lot has happened this year and chances are, it’s causing your employees some very real stress. But do you truly listen when they try to talk it out?
You may be guilty of always being the loudest voice in the room, but there are several ways to improve and become a better listener. Remember, listening is a skill, but with a mindful approach, anyone can improve and become a better leader.
Keep an open mind
Whether you’re looking for fresh ideas to improve your business or trying to solve a problem, an open mind is essential. Everyone has different life experiences and reacts to stress differently. One of the most important foundations of listening is being truly empathetic and placing yourself in another’s shoes.
If you enter into every conversation with your own preconceived notions, then you are just wasting everyone’s time. If you’re judging, you’re not really listening.
Distractions are everywhere. Our phones alone are causing us to shift our focus about 100 times a day. You may think you’re still fully capable of listening, but you simply aren’t. And your workers likely feel slighted if you never give them the consideration to take your eyes off a screen while talking. So, when it’s time to have a real conversation, give employees your full attention, and as a result, your respect.
Be genuinely curious
Like listening, curiosity is also a skill. Not only will forcing yourself to become truly curious make you a better listener, but it will make you a better leader and business owner, too. A curious mind brings about innovative results.
When it’s your turn to talk, ask questions. Work in specific questions, but also open-ended questions. This shows genuine interest and a real connection. Plus, the conversation is more likely to lead to insights or solutions than surface-level questions.
Don’t interrupt and give conversations room to breath. Often, just allowing a few seconds of awkward silence to pass will give your employee the urge to open up or elaborate even more. This is especially important if you sense that a conversation is difficult for an employee.
Reflect back on what they’ve told you, ideally even using your own words or examples. This shows that you were truly listening, but also that you understand, or at least you’re really trying to. This is the cornerstone to active listening.
Not only does true and active listening make your employees feel heard, but it’s often the best way to get new ideas and a fresh perspective. It builds trust, rapport, morale, increases productivity, and solidifies your company culture. All in all, listening is probably the easiest and cheapest way to benefit your business and become a better leader.
Get in touch with us for personalized advice on building your soft skills and increasing your leadership potential.