Listening may just be the single most neglected skill in business communications. Yet, impactful leaders have mastered the fine art of focusing in and listening. They invest in this powerful skill of listening because it is the key to moving organizations forward, accomplishing goals and achieving success.
Listening can help you achieve greater business success by:
Building Better Connections
Businesses thrive on strong relationships. Whether you’re talking to an employee, a client, a competitor or a colleague, listening helps you build better connections with them. By focusing on what they say, you show them that you value their opinion and insights.
Identifying Potential Problems Before They Happen
You may be the most proactive person on your team, but if you don’t know what’s happening in your company and your industry, potential problems can blow up into disasters before you even know about them.
You can find out what’s evolving around you if you tune in during your conversations. Notice body language and pay attention to what’s not being said. By taking time to really listen to other people, you can often get the inside scoop. Then, you can act preemptively to navigate any challenging situations.
Discovering Unexpected Opportunities
The next big idea that will lift your organization to greater success could come from anyone in your organization, particularly those with boots on the ground. They often generate innovative new ideas that can help the organization better service its customers, increase efficiency and even lower costs.
Retaining Your Best Employees
Harvard Business Review and Forbes agree, employees want to feel you value them and their input matters. If you never take the time to actively listen to what they’re saying, you could easily lose them to your competitor.
Maximizing Your Time
It’s easy to think of listening as a drain on your time. However, listening doesn’t take you away from business – it is an important part of doing business. Consider how much time you’ll waste if you don’t make decisions or act without having all the facts. Listening doesn’t waste time, it maximizes it.
How to Practice Leadership Level Listening
Listening is a complex skill, not a simple command. Once you understand the value of listening, it’s time to learn how to do it right. Start by reading the tips in the article Listening: The Secret Ingredient to Career Success.
To create a listening culture:
Strategically Create Space for Listening
When you’re rushing from one meeting to the next all day, it’s easy to forget to stop and listen. You need to plan strategically for times to listen to others. When you’re scheduling your day, set aside specific moments for listening to your employees, colleagues, and business contacts.
Before your next challenging meeting or launch of a new initiative, book a quick telephone call with your key stakeholders to solicit their feedback and suggestions.
Maintain Eye Contact
According to Forbes, “The impact of eye contact is so powerful because it is instinctive and connected to humans’ early survival patterns.” Even as a business leader, if you want to survive, eye contact is essential. In our business culture it demonstrates you are focused, engaged and open.
Others around you may be cautious about approaching you with their ideas, or they might feel that you don’t care about what they have to say. To open the dialogue, ask a simple question. Many great leaders like to explain a challenge their company is facing and ask individual employees or teams what they think. This simple, open-ended question gives them a chance to make suggestions you may not have considered.
Stay Present in that Moment
Don’t be sidetracked by what’s coming up on your schedule next or what went wrong earlier in the day. Staying present, even if you only have a few seconds, builds essential relationships. You don’t need long to demonstrate you are interested. For example, I worked with an incredible CEO of one of Canada’s Top Employers who had the gift of focusing in and listening. He may only have had 1-2 minutes, but during that time he lasered in genuinely asked how that individual was, and he did this with employees and consultants at all levels of the organization. As a result, he gained a reputation as a highly respected and influential leader – not only because of his incredible business acumen, but also by his ability to engage and motivate his people, one conversation at a time.
Interested in developing more effective listening skills? Contact us! We can help you discover the career-boosting benefits of listening and how it can transform your results.
Wishing you much career success!
Joanne Loberg Certified Executive Coach & Internationally Certified Career Management Professional
JL Careers Inc