December 9, 2014
The late comedian Rodney Dangerfield made a successful career of explaining how “he got no respect.” His comedy routine was a collection of jokes about the disrespect he encountered from everyone in his life.
There is a critical leadership skill that–like Rodney Dangerfield–gets little respect. In fact, many leaders could immediately improve their effectiveness if they made the time to use this skill correctly.
So, what is the leadership skill that gets little respect? It’s listening! For proof that leaders can listen more, consider the popular television show Undercover Boss. Many of the episodes show leaders who have unintentionally failed to listen and understand the needs of their employees. This lack of listening has real costs on their businesses.
Effective listening is more than allowing others to speak without interrupting them, however. It is listening to understand. It is not listening so you can respond back with your own views.
Leadership expert, Steve Covey, explained the power of listening to understand. Listening to understand requires two actions. First, you will listen to your employees until they believe that you fully understand their perspectives. Second, you will use thoughtful questioning to explore their perspectives.
How to Improve Listening Skills
Several actionable steps that you can take to improve your listening skills when others communicate with you include the following:
Benefits of Listening Skills
The benefits of effective listening skills are many and include the following:
As I help managers with the people side of the business, I find that insufficient listening is a contributing factor to most organizational problems. In these instances, people throughout the organization, including the leaders, have stopped listening to each other.
Listening really is the underrated skill of leadership. Listening needs a little more respect!