Leaders Who Listen

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Take a moment and think of a leader you admire. Focus on how he/she interacts with their audience.

Does the leader listen and provide undivided attention? Or, does the leader at times cut off the other person in the middle of conversation?

Not to take any sides in politics, but former President Bill Clinton has the gift of captivating the attention of the person he is talking to by looking at the person intently like no one else is around them. By doing this, he makes the person feel special.

As Stephen Covey says, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” I personally have done this many times; I listened to respond, instead of listening to learn. As I became aware of my mistakes, I put an effort to listen carefully. At that point, I learned that I was indeed listening, but not understanding, when I experienced that I failed to remember some of the points that were discussed.

I decided to understand the different barriers to listening to help me avoid them: distractions, for example, such as anyone doing something and making noises; emotions that affect effectiveness; inattentiveness; and lack of clarity. By understanding these barriers, I’m able to focus.

A leader listens to receive, retain, process and translate the message. You’ll notice that great leaders are good listeners because they are not afraid to repeat what they heard to ask for confirmation. They also look into non-communication forms like facial expressions, gestures, and body language to get a complete picture.

How Does A Leader Demonstrate Effective Listening?

A leader:

  1. Always maintains eye contact (most important).
  2. Uses body language to demonstrate that he/she understands what is being communicated by nodding.
  3. Asking questions to clarify the points.
  4. Repeating the message to receive confirmation.

To be a good leader, one must master the art of listening. By developing this skill, over time you’ll slowly head in the right direction.

Let me know your thoughts on my post. Do you agree? If you don’t, please share your thoughts.

Tell me about a time when listening impacted you!

Leadership in Action

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Coworkers discussing a fileI find it interesting seeing people wanting to be leaders like it is the first-place position in a race.  Each one is vying for that coveted position to be able to lead and tell people what to do. A position that has an aura of power and authority that is bestowed upon them, that enables them to give commands that their people have to follow and carry out.

Such demonstration of intense focus to gain power is akin to purchasing a house, thinking that once the house is purchased it is the end of the journey. But that is far from the truth. While the initial act of purchasing a house requires a huge financial outlay, the work that comes after that is even bigger and more demanding.

After the purchase one has to tend to the needs of maintaining a property, like mowing the lawn, cleaning the gutters, trimming the bushes, planting and caring for the plants, raking leaves, shoveling the driveway during winters and the overall upkeep of the house inside and out. All the ensuing activities are often not clear until the purchase is completed because the intense focus of acquiring it shifts the focus to the house itself.

As John C Maxwell said, “Leadership is action, not a position.”

Most folks fail to realize that there is a lot required of them after they arrive at the destination and are given the opportunity to lead others. They have to serve their constituents; they need to spend a great deal of time and managing people is not easy. As a result, they fail at it because they don’t have a clear picture of what they need to do.

Therefore it is important for leaders to educate their constituents about the work that is ahead of the folks who desire to be leaders. Just like purchasing a house, the single act pales in comparison to the commitment you need to dedicate time to serve and lead others. Until you realize the effort needed and learn what lies ahead, it is best to take the time in your journey to equip yourself with the necessary skills and knowledge to make it happen.

I make it a point to mentor my people of the importance of the work that lies ahead and the commitment that is needed to get there.

John C. Maxwell said that as we move up, we have to give up and do more time with and for our people. Unless one realizes the work needed ahead, they will certainly fail in leading their people. If you’re willing to sacrifice your time and develop people, that is when you should contemplate being a leader.

One must develop the heart of serving others and growing talent around them. It is the best gift they can give to their constituents to help them grow and develop.

Writing is a labor of love, if you agree with my post let me know your thoughts. If you disagree, let me know your perspective, I look forward to learning from you.

What are your thoughts regarding the demands of leadership?