Do you remember that last time a leader listened to you at work?
I mean, REALLY listened to you.
All social media devices were put down, computers, phones, and meeting notifications were turned off, and the world's volume was turned down.
When I ask people this question, most look at me and say something like, "Are you kidding?"
I want to share 3 important truths and a bonus about leadership and listening:
Truth #1: People become excited when a leader listens to them.
The few who have experienced the listening leader have a much different response. There's a twinkle in their eyes, almost like they've been recognized by a movie star or famous person. It's a mix between contained, yet giddy excitement and peaceful smiles as if they just had a life changing experience.
Truth #2: Leaders are listening less.
I was a keynote speaker recently at an HR conference and shared the fact that about 70% of people in leadership positions today are there because they performed well in the past, not because they truly have a desire to lead people. Most of these hardworking people are performers at heart, and leadership takes second place in terms of passion.
Leaders are listening less- not because they are terrible people, it's simply because business is becoming more demanding and as high performers, they are doing everything they can to hold the mission together. After all, that's what got them to where they are now (doing, not necessarily listening or leading).
Truth #3: A Listening Leader will increase the team productivity (and happiness).
This sounds too easy to be true, but it is. I was with a client this week doing an employee workshop. Several employees spoke up and talked about the differences in the way their leaders "heard" them. It was clear that those whose leaders listened intently to them on a consistent basis had better quality results and met deadlines.
Conversely, the complainers, who complained the entire time, had a leader who was described as a "hard driver" and didn't take the time to consider their ideas or thoughts. They were clearly continuing the negative talk because they just didn't feel loud enough or heard.
One last bonus truth: You can excite a person into productivity through listening.
Leaders AND employees are responsible for facilitating the listening process. If you are a leader and you want to make a MAJOR performance difference in your employees, you can start by sitting down, being quiet, and hearing what people have to say.
If you struggle with doing this, just take time to imagine YOURSELF wanting to be heard. Think about that time you needed to be heard and the person talking to you was busy processing 25 tasks or checking his or her phone. Compare it to the time you were heard, and walked away feeling like you were a bit special because someone took the time to focus on YOU.
If you are an employee, you have the same ability to listen. You also have the right to get your leader's attention and tell them you need them to hear you so that you can be at your best and represent them well.
Nothing is more important than taking the time acknowledge another human being's presence and respecting that person.
Simple, but powerful. Listening.
I invite your comments, additions, and feedback.
Leaders require executive presence. If you are a business person who want to demonstrateInfluential presence in business, contact me for a 30 minute consultant so we can discuss your development needs and coaching opportunities, or visit The School of Executive Presence- Currently enrolling for programs!
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Angela Nuttle is an author, speaker, talent remodeler®, and consultant in talent and organizational development. As founder of The School of Executive Presence™, she teaches business people how to show up with executive presence and coaches them to business success. She also works directly with CEOS, Business Leaders, and HR Teams to develop people, potential, and processes that create productive and profitable business environments.