Listen Up Leaders...
Updated: Sep 28
Did you know that one of your most important skills as a leader is your ability to listen? Leaders often feel the pressure to jump into solve it/fix it mode making listening more of a struggle.
When coaching leaders, I often remind them that the moment they start formulating a response and/or a solution is the moment they have stepped out of active listening.
If you are a leader and this pull to solve/fix is taking you out of active listening, here are a few strategies you might try:
Limit all distractions prior to any conversations taking place (turn off email notifications, social media alerts, etc. ). Take advantage of the do not disturb (focus) capability on your smartphone. Better yet, turn your phone off and put it in a desk drawer or your bag.
Schedule the meeting at a time that works for both you and your team member, ideally when you are both less likely to be interrupted and when you are both at your most alert.
Hold the intention of listening vs. solving. Aim to be interested vs. interesting.
Tune into what they are not saying as well as what they are saying.
Notice the message you are getting from their non-verbal communication. This includes their body language, tone of voice, pace of speech. Do they seem flushed? is their voice cracking? Are they rubbing their eyes? Do their non-verbals match what they are saying?
Use silence. Leave some space for them to think, process and speak. Deeper issues will start to surface.
Use empathy to gauge what they might be feeling.
Ask questions, preferably open-ended ones. If you are telling, you are not listening. If you are not listening, you are not learning. I see leaders doing more telling than listening during in their 1-to-1s and during interviews. Lots of valuable information gets lost here.
So, if you are experiencing quiet quitting, the great resignation, the great reckoning, low employee engagement, or excessive turnover, remember that listening is one of the most important tools in your leadership toolkit. When your team feels heard, they feel valued.
Unsure of what to ask your associates during your 1-to-1s? Email me to request a list of powerful questions.
Want to develop your leadership skills? Contact me to learn about our leadership development program.
Leadership is a Choice.
Empowering leaders for 25 years, Janine Friedman is a PCC (Professional Certified Coach) through the International Coach Federation and is a certified coach and trainer on The Leadership Challenge. She believes that leadership is a skill that can be learned and that nothing impacts an organization more than the leadership skills of its executive team.