Leaders Who Listen

Learn, Lead and Prosper

By Stephen Garber

Most people associate “effective communication” with making themselves understood accurately when speaking to others. Information output is certainly an integral part of communication, but information input often is more important.

Everyone is a customer, inside and outside of your business. They are doing your business, together.

In the business world, listening—information in—is particularly important for leaders. At every level of a company, whether an individual is a team leader, an upper manager or the CEO, his or her effectiveness relies heavily on his or her ability to listen effectively. A leader who isn’t willing or able to hear and understand his or her colleagues and clients will limit personal growth and success, the growth and success of others, and the growth and success of the business.

Successful leaders share numerous common attributes when relating to their internal and external customers:

Leaders are problem solvers. How can you solve a problem if you don’t know it exists?

• Leaders are encouragers. How can you encourage an individual or a team if you don’t know their challenges?

• Leaders are mentors. How can you mentor someone whose aspirations, goals and personal trials remain a mystery to you?

• Leaders set the standard. How can you help others reach that standard if you don’t know where they’re starting from or the skills they need to develop?

• Leaders empower others to achieve goals. How can you empower someone if you don’t know what motivates them?

• Leaders create the vision and drive strategy. How can you know of its likely success if you don’t hear the feedback?

Only leaders who truly listen will have the insight needed to engage and elevate a team, and the confidence of those people to support their efforts and work with them rather than against them. Forbes.com expands on the idea of effective listening, noting it “goes well beyond being quiet and giving someone your full attention. It requires you to be aware of body language, facial expressions, mood and natural behavioral tendencies.”

This active, all-in listening is what we at Third Level call “Power Listening.” It’s one of the skills we teach clients, and it’s a tool we’ve seen transform leaders and businesses time and time again. Power Listening is characterized by a lack of self. It is listening at a deeper level than normal conversation, using all of the senses as a neutral receiver instead of projecting preconceptions onto the speaker. This technique gives businesses a competitive advantage, and leaders an effective tool for building trust and loyalty among themselves and their team.

To learn more about Power Listing, email info@thirdlevel.com.♦

Stephen Garber is director of Third Level Ltd. Contact him at 561.752.5505 or sgarber@thirdlevel.com.

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