The best leaders are exceptional listeners

If you want your organization to feel empowered, appreciated, and motivated, the first and most important thing you need to give them is your attention.

Dustin Hughes
Dustin Hughes
Content Specialist
The best leaders are exceptional listeners

What makes a great leader?

Is it someone who's respected by their colleagues and employees? Someone with years of experience? Someone who's unafraid to pick up the reigns and charge into battle? Whatever the answer is, there is one quality all great leaders share: They're great listeners. Any organization is only as good as its team. And as leadership expert and lecturer Andy Stanley put it, "Leaders who don't listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say." If you want your organization to feel empowered, appreciated, and motivated, the first and most important thing you need to give them is your attention.

The Benefits of Listening

A leader who's willing to truly listen to the people they serve can benefit their employees or clients in multiple ways. According to TD.org, listening can strengthen relationships, build trust,improve teamwork and loyalty, and show employees that you care. It's not just a one-way street. Listening benefits the leader and the entire organization, as well. Listening to your employees' concerns and ideas gives a leader access to a diversity of ideas and experiences they would otherwise be blind to. Many of your employees or clients have had vastly different life experiences and come from different backgrounds than you. What better chance do you have to learn from them than by listening? Listening can also help with employee retention and morale. Truly listening lets employees and clients know you care, and feel safe, trusted, and eager to contribute to their organization. Paying attention to employees lets them know they are valuable, while lending your ear to customers or clients can alert you to services you might not have known they needed, and problems you never realized you needed to address.

Listening Leaders in Action

When David Abney was named CEO of UPS, one of the first things he did was go on a worldwide listening tour, hearing from employees and customers as to what the company should focus on going forward. Abney showed that he appreciated the importance of his employees and customers. Dennic C. Miller writes how his sweeping changes he made to a major medical center when he first took over as President and CEO worried and frightened his employees. To show them he cared, he scheduled time with the employees of a major medical center when he first took over, even asking them to go so far as having them honestly rate their job satisfaction. That was the beginning of a turnaround for his organization, leading to a top 1% placement for patient satisfaction. It's OK for a leader to not have all the answers to all the questions. By demonstrating humility and empathy that comes with listening, a leader will gain the most important thing they need: The respect of their followers.

Sources:

https://www.td.org/insights/listening-is-the-secret-weapon-of-good-leaders

https://hbr.org/2016/05/listening-is-an-overlooked-leadership-tool

https://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2013/05/20/6-effective-ways-listening-can-make-you-a-better-leader/#5eecebd41756

https://smallbiztrends.com/2017/06/why-leaders-should-listen.html