1. Show That You Care
When you care about your employees, they tend to work harder and aim to exceed your expectations. Employees want to be led by those who genuinely care about who they are and what they represent to the team and organization at-large. Don’t just view your employees as tools and resources for your own success – but as people and valuable assets who bring unique capabilities and aptitudes not necessarily limited to their job functions.
2. Engage Yourself
Beyond caring, engage yourself in matters important to your employees. When they share their opinions, ask questions and encourage them to elaborate and expand upon their perspectives. When you engage yourself more actively, hold yourself accountable and follow-up with your employees, they will know that you are listening, paying attention and attempting to understand what matters most to them.
3. Be Empathetic
The workplace is fueled with the stress and pressure of each day. Because every employee manages stress and pressure differently, it is important that you are empathetic to how these distractors impact employee performance.
Express your concern and show your employees that you feel their frustrations. If you are an old-school leader, don’t be afraid to express sentiment or feel that it will weaken your stature or authority as a leader.
Empathy is a powerful display of listening. I realize that many leaders avoid emotional interactions, but the best leaders know how to empathize and make themselves approachable to those who need attention.
Great leaders know how to balance the head and the heart.
4. Don’t Judge Others
Leaders that judge others are not listening. Too many times leaders make harsh criticisms about those with a different style or approach. Instead of judging someone, they could be learning from them (like my boss did early on in my career).
When leaders judge, they expose their immaturity and inability to embrace differences. These leaders may enjoy a long track record of success in one company, but often find it difficult to make the successful transition into a new company.
Leaders must not grow complacent. The 21st century leader must embrace new ideas and ideals. They must be more active listeners, constantly learning and adapting to change.
5. Be Expansively Mindful
Great leaders are extremely mindful of their surroundings. They know how to actively listen beyond the obvious via both verbal and non-verbal communication. They acknowledge others via body language, facial expressions and nods. These types of leaders possess a tremendous degree of executive presence and are tuned in to the dynamics that are taking place around them, at all times.
Leaders that are mindful are not just hearing conversations; they are listening to them and engaging in the dialogue. They don’t fake it, they are taking note of what is being said and how people are saying it and are making continuous eye-contact and gestures.
As the leader, everyone is watching your every move and action. If you appear disconnected, you are perceived as disinterested and not listening. Never stop being expansively mindful.
6. Don’t Interrupt
How many times has your leader rudely interrupted your train of thought? It’s fair to say this is a common occurrence. Compassionate leaders listen and don’t interrupt the flow of the dialogue. They embrace two-way communication and are aware that with every interruption comes disengagement. They earn respect from their peers by being a patient listener.
Stay focused on what your employees are saying. Stay in the moment and be respectful of others. Listen and become a more compassionate leader.
Employees respect those leaders that listen, because they know how difficult listening can be. Here are a few statistics that will really make you think about the importance of effective listening.
- 85% of what we know we have learned through listening
- Humans generally listen at a 25% comprehension rate
- In a typical business day, we spend 45% of our time listening, 30% of our time talking, 16% reading and 9% writing
- Less than 2% of all professionals have had formal education or learning to understand and improve listening skills and techniques