Leadership. It’s a complicated topic with a plethora of subjective opinions. The definition of leadership varies from person to person which is exactly why so many talented people struggle with being an effective leader.
So how can we be an effective leader for our team if the definition of effective leadership varies?
The answer is simple – by listening.
Listening is a powerful skill that is often underutilised by effective leaders. This is because leaders often require a high level of competence, which can often lead to confirmation bias.
To put it simply, leaders assume they’re correct, so they spend more time directing and less time listening, which can create disastrous effects on a company’s bottom line.
Studies show that when leaders create a culture filled with positive emotion, their employees become more motivated, and to create this type of environment, leaders need to listen.
Here are 3 reasons why listening plays an important role in effective leadership and how you can utilise it to create a positive environment.
Innovation is vital for any business to remain sustainable. Companies are always looking for new ways to improve, but one study found that 1/3 of employees feel as though their company doesn’t listen to their ideas in-regards to improvement, even though 82% of employees have ideas that could assist them in achieving their goals.
Also, according to the Harvard Business Review, feedback – both positive and negative can decrease performance, as the feedback can threaten how people see themselves. On the contrary, listening and asking questions positively shaped the employees’ emotions and attitudes which make them more receptive to new ideas.
Listening can also make an employee feel more relaxed, more self-aware, and more willing to reflect on their shortcomings in a less defensive manner. When we listen, employees are more likely to cooperate (versus compete), which leads to a more productive workplace as they become more interested in sharing their ideas and less interested in persuading others to adopt their beliefs.
By focusing on what your employees need and really narrowing down how you can help them achieve their goals, you can then align those goals with your organisation and work more collaboratively.
According to Forbes, listening can also build trust and give people dignity in the workplace. Listening to your employees with a non-judgemental, supportive, and honest approach is likely to increase your employees’ trust in you.
On the contrary, a lack of trust creates an environment where concerns quickly evolve into fear. And, when fear collides with a belief that the system is failing, it can affect the bottom-line, create disengaged employees, frustrated management, and increase employee churn.
I hope this list has given you some insight into what effective leadership looks like. To recap, we mentioned that effective leadership involves motivating others. To motivate others, we must listen intently.
When we listen, we increase the likelihood of innovative solutions, increase productivity, and promote a workplace of trust and belonging, which ultimately improves a company’s bottom line.
So, what other ways can you think of to be an effective leader?