Dr. Rob Sheehan | Insights With Impact: Improve Your Listening

Listening skills – such as Active Listening – are vital in order for leaders to be successful.

However, this might not be enough to keep you from being isolated.

Leaders need to make sure that they are hearing and listening to the most important things going on in their organizations. Here are some tips from a recent article in Harvard Business Review to keep us from being trapped in a bubble of not knowing.

1. Protect against blind spots. Create a culture where people feel free to challenge you.

2. De-emphasize hierarchy. Respect every person and what they have to say regardless of their placement in the organization chart.

3. Give permission to share bad news. Don’t overreact when people share bad news. Make it a big point that you want to hear bad news quickly and clearly.

4. Acknowledge progress to encourage problem solving. Ask people what they are most proud of having accomplished in the past. And then ask – five years from now – what they will be proud of. This helps to demonstrate progress along a timeline and inspire people to solve today’s challenges.

5. Listen without judgement or agenda. Calm yourself and just listen (mindfulness meditation can help; check out this blog). Remember WAIT: “Why Am I Talking,” and stop talking if you can’t come up with a really good reason.

6. Actively seek input. Invest time in getting out of the usual communication chains and talking with the same old people. Walk around the office, visit various locations, hold town halls – virtual and real – to give people an opportunity to be heard.

The way we listen to one another is vitally important to understanding others and to understanding what is going on in the organization.

We also need to be strategic about making sure we have the right channels of communication coming our way and that people know they can share anything with us. Then we can listen and work together to most effectively move forward.

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