There are hundreds of books on the market that determine the behaviours, traits and skills that set great leaders apart. But which do you believe? Can they all be right? Can you remember all the little things they say you should do or be?
Having spent time with different clients and their staff exploring what makes for a successful organisation, how connected the staff feel to their employer, how proud they are to work there, how willing they are to go the extra mile, the answer is simply there in the asking.
People overwhelmingly want to feel valued and respected by their employers and it’s often cited as what is missing. They don’t want to be invisible or just a number, they want to be known for who they are. They have ideas for improvements, questions to ask about the future or the here and now, they have concerns about things affecting them or want to be more involved, and they want those things acknowledged.
So, out of all you could do what is the ONE key thing you can do to reinforce the feelings of value and respect..? You LISTEN…
- You listen to their ideas, and consider them constructively,
- You listen to their concerns about things affecting them, and respond patiently and with consideration,
- You listen to their questions about the here and now or future plans and give clear and thoughtful answers,
- You listen to their aspirations and encourage their contribution.
Simply listening, and listening well, means YOU then engage more. You are open to and seek more input, you start to ask for welcomed contribution, you follow up suggestions, you delegate and share responsibility, you actively give recognition – all feeding the cycle of feeling valued and respected.
Being prepared to listen to others isn’t a sign of weakness. If you aren’t working at the coalface chances are you won’t know how it is for those who are. Unless you are a genius, chances are you don’t know all of the answers all of the time. Being prepared to listen and to then acknowledge contributions and viewpoints as valuable information and knowledge sharing can only benefit you and your business.
However it happens, whether it’s a one to one conversation or a group discussion, whether informal over the watercooler or part of a convened meeting, how you respond to the often nuanced communication flowing within an organisation will help shape and define you as a leader.
So go on…make that New Year’s resolution…just listen…