Great leaders must be effective communicators. That means they have to know how to speak and write clearly—and it also means they also have to know how to listen. Most of us don’t think of listening as a communication skill, but it’s one of the most important. The best leaders are skilled at listening—here’s how they do it:
They listen with full attention. Most people like to speak, but it’s far more rewarding to listen with your full attention. You retain more, and people talk more—because the sincerest form of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.
They listen to learn. In most exchanges, people simply react to the latest comment — a logical and often effective approach. But the best leaders are listening to learn. They don’t track conversations as a back-and-forth but as a path to new information. Listening, learning and putting into practice what you’ve learned will always be the best way to build success.
They listen to understand. Most people listen with the intent to reply in the front of their mind. But true leaders know that in order to empathize and connect with others, you have to first understand them, and that understanding comes from good listening.
They listen without interrupting. Most leaders have a genuine desire to be helpful, so it’s always tempting to chime in when someone’s speaking. But when you jump in to be helpful, you’re actually robbing them of the chance to fully express themselves and solve the problem on their own. Instead of rushing to respond when someone else speaks, try to zero in on what they’re actually saying. You can always offer help later if it’s still needed.
They listen to form connections. The best listeners have developed their ability to hear and form connections—and then articulate the connecting points. When you listen and you are able to form connections with what is being spoken, you’ll find you’re well prepared to help people put their thoughts in context and decide what to do next.
They listen without needing to reply. If you want to be known as a great communicator, you have to learn how to listen without thinking about your reply. As the old saying goes, we have two ears and one tongue. Focus entirely on understanding what’s being said.
They listen to silence. Sometimes the most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said. Listen for awkward pauses, omissions, hesitation. When you do, you’ll become aware of things you haven’t heard before..
The most successful people I know are the ones who do more listening than talking. Great communication is more about hearing others than it is about being heard yourself.
Lead from within: When you really listen well, you’ll be able to engage more deeply with your team, colleagues and customers, and that is the sign of great leadership.
#1 N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
Photo Credit: iStockPhotos
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.