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Listen Up - Listening Habits of Effective Leaders

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Listen Up - Listening Habits of Effective Leaders

Effective communication is key to the success of any business. Leaders must be able to accurately decipher and communicate their missions, objectives, and visions for their company to their managers, and those managers to their employees. However, no matter how precisely these things are communicated, it is possible that ineffective listening on part of upper management or employees could result in incongruencies throughout the business. When managers are developing problem-solving strategies, it is important to strive for structure, but dynamic. You need a process that can apply to a multitude of situations, yet also is effective. The founding stone of this process? Effective listening tactics. With the help of the Front Line Leadership Module 6, we’ve broken the effective listening process down into three simple steps:

  1. Ask – As a manager, you should ask open-ended questions to gather information. Try some of the following:
    • “What happened?”
    • “How did it effect you?”
    • “What was the impact?”
    • “What else can you tell me?”
  2. Reflect – Next, you should reflect in your own words what you heard the speaker say – be sure to focus on the content of their response and their feelings expressed when doing so. Start questions with phrases like:
    • “So you thought…”
    • “So it made you feel…”
    • “So what you are saying is…”
    • “Sounds like you…”
    • “It appears that…”
  3. Resolve – Lastly, ask them for their ideas, and see if they can resolve. If they can, ask questions like:
    • “What do you think should happen?”
    • “How should you go about fixing this?”
    • “What ideas do you have?”
    • “What are your thoughts?”
  4. If they cannot resolve, ask questions like:
    • “This is how I see it…”
    • “Here are some options you have…”
    • “This is how you might approach this…”

Although this is an effective framework for effective listening tactics, there are other characteristics that managers should strive to maintain to ensure effective listening with their managers and employees. In an article from the Harvard Business Review, an executive recruiter stresses that “The critical functions for today’s CEO are to listen, listen, listen… and communicate, communicate, communicate.” To do this, the listener should follow a few steps: firstly, the listener should face the speaker and maintain eye contact with them. Doing this will ensure the speaker that they have your full attention – besides, no one feels respected when the person they’re speaking to is constantly scanning the room. Additionally, do your conversation partners the favor of facing them. Your body language communicates your attention just as much as your eyes do. Additionally, it is wise to put aside any handheld distractions as well – that means phones, books, papers; anything that might imply further distraction. While maintaining these behaviors is important, you should also remember to stay relaxed – not only is your speaker’s communication inhibited when you seem tense or overly interested, but if you focus too intently on focusing, it will inhibit your ability to listen. Calm, cool, and collected is the way to go. Lastly, be sure to keep an open mind when listening. You may approach a conversation having already formed opinions on the matter you are about the discuss, but be sure to set aside preconceived notions or opinions. Remaining closed-off will inhibit your ability to effectively listen to those you listening to.

Like all good things, these effective listening skills take practice. As a manager employee, take note of them, and strive to employ them in your daily communications. For more information about how the Front Line Leadership Program can transform your organization or for pricing information, contact Robert Winter at 832-483-5535 or fill out a contact form on our contact page.



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