Becoming a Better Leader Means Becoming a Better Listener
One of the best ways to become a better leader is to become a better listener. Marcel Schwantes says listening has become a lost art.
“Perhaps it’s because we’re all running in high gear, productivity is paramount, and we simply don’t take the time to slow down and truly hear what’s going on around us,” he surmises.
But that doesn’t make it any less essential.
On Inc., Schwantes provides five reasons why becoming a better listener is important for any leader.
Build trust with employees
Trust with one's employees is not just one way. They should trust you to have their best interests in mind, just as you should trust them to do their work.
“Listening to and acting on the feedback you receive shows employees you care about what they have to say,” Schwantes explains. “This sets the tone that if they come to you with issues or concerns, they’ll be heard, taken seriously, and addressed appropriately.”
Become more relatable
When you listen to your employee, you are better able to have a back-and-forth conversation where you can each share your background and experiences. Relaying that real-world experience puts you on common ground with your team, which encourages your employees to continue to open up to you.
“Taking the time to truly understand your team’s needs and concerns builds empathy and shows that you care about them as individuals, not just employees,” Schwantes says.
This means your team is more likely to come to you when problems do arise, making it then easier to solve for them.
Show employees they’re valued
Creating an environment where your team feels valued makes everyone feel more comfortable, which leads to a better work product.
“Listening intently sends the message you appreciate employees’ contributions and care about their input,” Schwantes says. “This is especially important in the face of uncertainty, as it sends a message that your company cares not only about employees’ work, but also how outside forces affect their well-being.”
Gain different perspectives
If you listen to both your internal and external stakeholders, you will have a better grasp of how they see you and your organization. That insight can help you recognize opportunities for innovation that you may not have had if you weren’t listening.
“Taking the time to really listen to people’s needs and perspectives is essential, not only for your company’s growth and success but also for your own as an effective leader,” Schwantes says.