Leadership Skill: The Power of Listening – Part 1

One of the most important skills a leader can possess is the ability to listen. Listening is vital to leadership. When a leader fails to listen to her team, clients, and circumstances, she becomes impaired, and her effectiveness as a leader suffers.

Leaders must learn to listen and listen intently. An inability to listen to others cripples leaders. The “deaf” leader is bound to be ineffective; leaders don’t see all the issues and areas of improvements; they don’t find all the solutions and come up with all the great ideas. Leaders must keep their ears to the ground and be open to receiving feedback.

The team (and the organization) is a valuable source of information for leaders. Team members, by virtue of their roles and responsibilities, see situations, processes, procedures, the organization, the “product,” the “service,” and other elements of the team’s (and the organization’s) reality, from a different perspective than that of their leader. From their vantage point, team members can see things that their leader won’t see, and they think about solutions their leader would struggle to conjure up. Thus, the team offers a perspective that is essential to the leader.

On the other side, by virtue of their position, leaders can shut themselves up and refuse to listen to the team’s concerns and perspectives. In fact, many do; deep down, they don’t believe that the team has any insights to offer as it relates to the results the team strives to achieve. Some argue, “I (the leader) am leading the team, not the other way around.”

The presupposition here is that listening to the team means surrendering the lead to the team. But this is a fallacy. Receiving feedback from the team (and organization) doesn’t equate abdicating one’s leadership responsibility; it means being diligent in seeking all the information one needs to draw as clear a picture of situations as you can. And the feedback leaders gather can inform their decisions.

Leaders do themselves a great disservice when they isolate themselves from their team by refusing to take heed of the concerns, comments, suggestions, and ideas of their team.

Your ability to listen and receive feedback from your team (and the organization you lead) is vital to your success as a leader. Consider receiving feedback as gathering information to help you make better decisions and lead better.

About The Author

Vladimir Elie

I help people learn and apply success principles and strategies so that they can get the results they want in life.