Becoming a better listener can make you a more effective leader in whatever leadership role you’re in. Whether you’re listening to your kids recount their days at school or in a meeting receiving feedback from your employees, it’s important that you listen carefully and become more mindful of what is said between the lines.
As a leader, it’s not always easy to know what subordinates are thinking. They seem to hold back about concerns and problems because they don’t want the leader to think them a complainer or that they have a bad attitude. But, the leader who is able to listen clearly can develop relationships of trust and let others know their best interests are most important.
One of the ways a true leader can listen is by learning body language, being able to discern moods, facial expressions and knowing behavioral issues. A good listener can easily discern changes in a subordinate’s demeanor and whether or not they’re truly engaged in their work. They know instinctively how to turn it around and create a more positive and thriving atmosphere.
If you’re a good listener, you must also develop compassion and empathy for those who look up to you as a leader. Someone in your team may have issues at home or other personal problems that cause their performance or attitude at work to suffer.
They may not want to reveal personal problems to you because they feel it might lower your perception of them and hurt their work reviews or prohibit promotions or other rewards.
You won’t see “good listener” as a requirement in a job description, but it’s a good trait to bring up during the interview. A good Human Resources person or interviewer will recognize that listening is a great quality for a future leader in their company or organization.
One way to become an effective listener is to show that you care about your subordinates (that also works within a family). They’ll be much more likely to come to you with problems and alert you to possible ramifications that may happen to the team and your goals if a problem isn’t solved.
Aligning yourself with your employees also helps you become a good leader. By engaging yourself in matters that concern employees and letting them know that you’ll be there during personal or professional hardships, you’ll be setting yourself up to know and understand what matters most.
Lee M. Jenkins