Leadership Effectiveness : ACTIVE LISTENING
Every employee deserves a great leader! Do you lead by example? A key trait that every leader should possess is active listening.
Are you an active listener?
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey.
Can you think of a time when you were meeting with your boss and you put so much of time and effort in getting organized for the meeting but your boss was not fully present and was on the computer responding to an email or on the phone reading texts, and trying to listen to you at the same time. People who do this, will tell you they are good at multitasking but how many times are you able to give multiple tasks your best attention?. In this case, your impression of the boss will not be great. Your boss was listening but not actively listening. There’s a big difference between the two. How did that make you feel? You are left feeling frustrated at how disrespectful your boss was. Very often, this is not intentional.
Do you attend large company meetings where it’s ok for people to have their laptops during meetings? While the speaker is presenting, people are clicking away, trying to catch up with emails and IM’s. All of a sudden the speaker happens to pause and ask for feedback on the topic of discussion. Here’s a true test of your multitasking skills.
What gets in the way of active listening? Our lens, environment, competing priorities, fatigue, time, email/IM etc.
My boss and former CEO was all about respect. One of our Leadership team norms was “no laptops” at meetings unless used for taking meeting notes. The Senior Management Team led by example. This reinforced active listening. Meetings were purposeful and productive.
Would you agree that active listening and self-awareness go hand-in-hand? Think of how you show up to work every day. Do you bring your best self to work? Self-awareness is key. As a leader you set the stage! You set the tone of the day for your team! Rules are not just for the team to follow. We need to lead by example!
Identify a time during the week where you experienced some negative emotion and then reflect on the situation: what emotions did you experience, how did you show up? Did you show up differently because of your awareness??
Here are 7 tips to active listening:
• Face the speaker and maintain eye contact
• Be fully present, relaxed and attentive
• Keep an open mind
• Try to feel what the speaker is feeling
• Ask questions only to ensure understanding
• Don’t interrupt and don’t impose your "solutions”
• Give the speaker regular feedback Or just nod and show your understanding
through appropriate facial expressions and an occasional well-timed “hmmm”
or “uh huh.”
As your role grows in scale and influence, so too must your ability to listen. But listening is one of the toughest skills to master — and requires uncovering deeper barriers within oneself.
Start today! Practice self-awareness and build your listening muscle which in turn will deepen your relationships.