I recently read an article in Forbes Magazines titled the top 10 qualities that make a great leader.
It listed them as :
- The Ability To Delegate
- Sense Of Humour
- Positive Attitude
- Ability To Inspire
It’s a good list but there is one key quality missing for me.
What is missing is “Great Listener”.
I think the most important quality of any leader is their ability to listen and I don’t just mean to what people are saying.
Listening goes deeper than simply what we hear through our ears.
I first discovered this when I was age 7 but I didn’t realise it until I was well into my corporate career.
As a child I remember singing “I Can Sing A Rainbow.” You know the one right? “Red and Yellow and Pink and Green, Purple and Orange and Blue” (if you don’t know it click here)
The line which always confused me was “Listen with your eyes, Listen with your eyes”
It seemed like a bizarre thing to say but later in life I finally got it!
You see, listening is way more than just using your ears. Real listening is about using all of our senses.
Whether you are a leader of people in a team, running your business or enterprise or working in the community, developing your listening skills is critical to your success.
Here are 4 ways in which you can improve how you listen :
1. Pay Attention To The Whole.
Don’t just focus on the words people say but observe them as a whole. Watch for changes in body position, voice tonality and for signs of emotional energy all of which will reveal more about what they are saying. Remember it’s not what you say but how you say it.
2. Be Fully Present.
In today’s world there are so many distractions – buzzing mobile phones, message alerts, open office spaces and busy coffee shops. Switch off your device or move to somewhere you wont be easily distracted. Stay focused and put all your attention on the other person, you can catch up with the rest of the world later on, right now they should be your number priority.
3. First Seek to understand
Often we are too quick to want to get our view across and therefore whilst the other person is communicating we are busy formulating a response in our heads or worse still we just interrupt! Stop thinking about what you are going to say next or how you might answer a question. Instead become fully committed to understanding first and ask questions which add clarity.
4. Be Aware Of Your Filters.
From the moment words leave our lips or from the instant we act, a filtering process begins. Our values, beliefs, past experiences, culture, the way someone looks, how they smell, their demeanour etc all being to influence how we interpret what is going. Filtering is an automatic process which fools us into believing that what we are observing is the ‘whole’ reality. The more aware you become of your own filters, the more you will be able step back from judgements and make better decisions.
To be a great listener is to me the precursor to being a great leader. Only when you are truly able to listen will your ability to inspire, communicate a vision and influence really come to into play.
If you’d like to more about how you can become a better listener, then please get in touch.