This is my very subjective series on how to become a good leader. Everything I write serves as a reminder for myself and to give you an opportunity to reflect about your own leadership. It is probably good to start with the first part where I speak about the importance of crafting your leadership vision.
This time I want to write about listening.
If you are familiar with my blog, you will notice that this is a reoccurring theme. I think that having good listening skills is one of the most important skills a leader can have. Actually, it is also valuable in our private lives. Our relationships with friends, family and our partner will improve with our ability to hear them. To really hear them.
A precondition to be able to listen is to be still. Stillness in what we do/say and what goes on in our minds. I had to train this and even today, I fall back into listening to all that clutter and chatter that happens in my brain. Meditating helps a lot with that. It calms my thoughts and creates space for other thoughts and ideas from other people.
It is also about our attitude. And our ego. How do you go into a conversation? Do you want to understand and to learn? Or do you want to solve a problem? There is nothing wrong with the latter. The intention is admirable. Unfortunately, most people actually don’t want to hear a solution. They are often more than capable of coming up with ideas and solutions themselves. What many people want is to be and feel heard. You can achieve that (besides being still in your mind) by asking follow-up questions and mirroring back what you understood and if that is correct. If you can manage this, you are already much better than many other leaders.
The master level is to remember what has been said. Not only throughout a conversation, but also for several days (if not weeks/months). People will be surprised and will feel really heard. You can train this by doing memory training (there are a couple of techniques out there) and the attitude helps here, too. If you really want to learn and understand and you are very alert and attentive, you will remember a lot. Maybe not in the beginning, as this is a training, too, but you will notice the changes over time. For me, my mindfulness practice helped as well.
And take a moment to think about all the people you talk to. Be it at work or in your private life. When do you feel good talking to someone? And how do you feel when you don’t sense that the other person is listening to you? Are you a good listener? There are always two sides to it. Maybe others think that they cannot speak to you or they don’t feel understood. To find out, just ask them. It is always possible to change for the better =).
Have a wonderful day and take care,