Growing up, I was told I didn’t listen enough. I was told things like, “You have two ears and one mouth so you should listen twice as much as you speak.” The message stuck.
I am a curious, diagnostic, and intuitive listener.
When I listen, I hear the message and the energy. It’s at that point, I want to know more. I ask a better question to get more information.
Listening is an important and valuable leadership skill. Without good listening skills, leaders can’t build the trust and the relationship with people on their team and in their organization.
In my various leadership roles, I placed tremendous value on listening to my team members. When they came to me with an issue, there was something there. It was my job to listen to what they were saying and then get really curious about why they were saying it.
“Morale stinks around here!”
“We are working way too hard for not enough money.”
“No one knows what they are doing.”
“You’re doing a good job but….”
(There is always a but…and that’s when you listen more intently.)
When leaders listen, they “lean in” and get really curious about that “issue”. Leaders ask more in-depth questions and seek out other respected colleagues to determine how accurate and relevant the information is. It is during the “leaning in” phase that leaders gain insight. They listen for themes and additional information to strategize, analyze the risks, and prepare to take action.
Only after leaders have listened and “leaned in”, can they step forward and take action. It is what makes them calculated, thoughtful, and strategic. Their teams know that any decision their leadership makes is with careful consideration and attention to detail.
I believe there are five influencers that help us step forward. These influencers are:
I believe the biggest influencer is our core values. When our core values are out of alignment, we can’t authentically “show up” and do our best work. When our core values don’t match up with our organization’s leadership, we begin to question our “fit” and how much value we bring to the table. And if our core values don’t align, we are probably starting to look for another job.
There are dozens of core values! Every company has an established set of core values that their employees are expected to know in their heads and in their hearts. For Southwest, some of their core values are: work hard, innovate, put others first, be a passionate team player, and provide friendly customer service. https://inside.6q.io/over-100-examples-of-company-values/
If you don’t believe in those core values, chances are you are probably not a good fit for working at Southwest. If you don’t adhere to those core values, someone is going to hold you accountable.
As a team leader, I listened intently to my team members and whenever I thought one of those five influencers were present, I would ask about it. I remember asking one team member what would cause her to leave the organization. She stared at me and laughed. She said, “I’ve never had a manager ask me that before.” I said, “Great! Now is your chance to tell me.” And she did.
How much value do you place on listening to your team members?
(I mean truly listening to them where you don’t respond but just listen.)
When was the last time you really “leaned in” and gathered more information before you took action?
When was the last time you stepped forward with the competence and confidence to make a really powerful decision that created some impact for your organization or team?
Which influencer is speaking the loudest to you and what is it saying?