Leaders Listening Skills

As A Leader, Do You Listen When You Hear?

“The word ‘listen’ contains the same letters as the word ‘silent’” 
― Alfred Brendel

LeadershipListeningSkills-AgnesMwilaCoachWhat is the most significant leadership skill that most leaders lack? It is the skill of listening. We can all hear, right? Right, but do we listen? Most of us would not consider listening as a skill that must be developed, but it actually is. A great deal of the time, leaders feel they  should be the one speaking because they are the leader, but in reality, a good leader is the one who listens carefully to what his team members are saying. In coaching, listening is a competency that is required to make a good coach. How many leaders have you seen only waiting their turn to talk and not even paying attention to what is being said?

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
― Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

The Power of Silence…

When I am in a coaching session with a leader, I ask a powerful question and then I give them enough time to think about it (SILENCE). This concept took a long time for me to understand and appreciate – the power of silence…giving people the quiet time they need to reflect on the question asked, what is happening on the inside and the environment they are in. This is very effective for people to come up with thoughtful, “real” answers or possibly a good follow up question. They also feel included and respected when they are allowed the space and freedom to have the moment to themselves.

What does it show when a leader asks a question and then followed by a quick follow-up comment or question such as…“what I mean is“,“or “do you want me to give you an example”? What does it say to the person being asked the question? It shows that the leader is not expecting a correct or thoughtful answer because the leader has already decided what the answer should be, and that any answer, other than his own is not good enough. Usually this humiliates and discourages people, often leaving them feeling their own opinion is unappreciated.

We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say.” ― Zeno of Citium, as quoted by Diogenes Laërtius

ManagerNotLeader-AgnesMwilaLeadershipCoachShould the leader be the only one talking?

During my coaching time with leaders, I often hear, “my team does not listen to me, and it frustrates me.” In my response I always ask if he or she actually listens to them. A common response is, “I am the leader, and it is my job to give assignments and instructions for employees to follow.” I wonder how the leader will know what is going on with his team, what problems or kinds of direction his employees need…It’s hard to know, when you’re the one doing all the talking. SILENCE can prove to be golden…

If your goal is to become a better, more effective leader – Please contact me  at 425-879-1677 or email me from my Contact Form.


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