Leaders who want to keep growing have got to focus on one skill more than any other: Listening.
It’s an oxymoronic fact of life that the most important communications skill is listening.
Yes, leaders have to know how to express a myriad of messages clearly. As Keepers of the Vision, they have to both verbalize and embody their organization’s mission and vision. They have to break down complex processes into simple, easy to grasp tasks for everyone on their team. They have to describe clearly what success looks like.
But first and foremost, they have to be able to listen.
As consultant Jennifer Miller points out in an excellent article, the leadership benefits of being a good listener are many. And chief among them is the fact that if you aren’t listening, you aren’t learning.
Being a good listener can open the door to learning from others on the team while, at the same time, avoiding the trap of having everyone start playing “follow the leader.” Many studies show that when the group knows what the leader thinks or wants, the tendency is for everyone to quickly abandon their own insights and fall into step.
What could have been an idea factory becomes instead an echo chamber.
And the negative impact can be cumulative. As Vicki Williams, an HR executive with NBCUniversal puts it: “Leaders who don’t listen will soon find themselves with people who have nothing to say.”
TO READ MORE FROM JENNIFER MILLER ABOUT
THE LEADERSHIP VALUE OF LISTENING,