When working with clients, a common theme that comes up is the importance of communication skills. While I totally agree that communication skills are key for a leader, I sometimes wonder if the term ‘communication’ is too generic.
If we think about it, communication includes:
From a very young age, we are working on developing our speaking skills. Once we realise as a child that we have a voice, we put it to work. By the time we become an adult we have a lot of practice at crafting our verbal communication skills.
The same applies to our written communication. Often we can write at a very basic level even before we start school. Again, by the time we are in or close to a leadership role, we have got pretty good at written communication.
Listening on the other hand is a little different. I wonder how many times we have sat in meetings where there is a constant battle to say the most. Probably quite a few in my experience. The trouble is that when we don’t listen we lose out so much. So what are some of the real benefits of listening?
You Learn To Understand Others’ Points Of View
If all we ever do is talk, we never really get to understand another person’s point of view. When we start to appreciate others’ views, we stop, reflect and open up to new possibilities or even better options.
You Get More Respect
No one wants to be told what to do all of the time. They want to feel like they have a voice or say and what they contribute is really valued. When you listen, you say to people, “Your opinion counts”, and as a result you get more respect.
You Get Better Results
If you doubt this, think about a time when a group of people were brainstorming or masterminding around a particular issue or opportunity. A kind of building block mentality develops where the ideas of one person are built upon. Ultimately this leads to better solutions and results.
You Increase Motivation
Most people thrive on contributing. When you create an environment where people are encouraged to contribute in the knowledge that they will be listened to, it has a huge impact on motivation. You know that motivated people go the extra mile to deliver on a deadline or project.
You Build Camaraderie
Camaraderie for me is quite simply a sense of togetherness. When people have a real sense of belonging and achieving, then they drive things forward even when faced with the most difficult challenges.
The Bottom Line: If there was just one thing you were going to work on as a leader, I would recommend listening more if you want to be a successful leader.
By Anthony Ewing