Effective leadership relies on building a foundation of knowledge and wisdom, but this can’t occur if talking happens disproportionately to listening. While employees likely look to learn from what you have to say, it can result in a lack of listening on your end. Follow these best practices to include active listening into your leadership strategy.
When speaking with employees, approach conversations as opportunities to gain understanding, as opposed to solely focusing on getting your point across. A natural conversational tendency for many people, not just leaders, is to use the time when someone else is talking to think about what you’re going to say next. If you catch your mind wandering to the next steps in the conversation instead of truly hearing what the other person is saying, intentionally put yourself back in the moment by considering their perspective. What do they want you to walk away from the conversation having learned?
Engage in Meaningful Conversation
A conversation should be a two-way street, even when you’re the boss. Be mindful to not have the majority of your interactions with your employees consist of monologues on your part. Encourage employees to participate in meaningful conversations with you by interjecting your speech with probing questions throughout. It may require you to be a bit pressing with your employees to draw input out of them at first, but it will pay off significantly when you learn more information to make strategic decisions.
Be Willing to Humble Yourself
It’s understandable for leaders to worry that asking questions or allowing others to provide contrary perspectives will undermine their authority and make people question their judgment. More likely, showing a softer side, in which you acknowledge that you don’t necessarily know everything and are willing to be challenged for the organizational greater good, will make people trust you more and be more engaged.
If you find yourself too busy to listen, it’s time to reprioritize so employees feel like they are able to share their knowledge with you. Don’t think of these conversations as negotiable – include them as a strategic activity and treat them with the same respect as other information-gathering or brainstorming activities you currently do.
Company leaders know and appreciate the value of strategic planning. Ethan Allen Workforce Solutions offers a full range of employer services to help businesses operate efficiently, from staffing to administration. Since 1969, we have been serving the Hudson Valley area and have a wealth of experience and knowledge combined with a desire to truly help. Contact us today to learn more about our workforce solutions and how they could be beneficial to your business.