In part one of this series I discussed the value of The Visionary leader, however leaders don’t simply have vision. In order for a leader to be effective, they need to be able to serve people and the skill is to find out what people need so that they can be served better.
How would you go about finding out what people need? – Well you could do some sort of survey and ask them directly. But are surveys what leaders do or is that simply a market research type function? I don’t think surveys are what leaders do – leaders should be connecting face to face with the people they are wanting to serve, finding out what people want. Sure they may be a select few with who the leader actually engages, but these few, if they are from varied backgrounds, will be representative of the needs of the people.
Did you know that 80% of our success comes from listening? People often ask what the other 20% is – well if you have 80% already would you really worry about the other 20%? Listening is an art! Most people say they listen, some listen to understand and even fewer confirm they have actually listened by asking you a question to clarify what has just been said.
Things are changing daily, some of these things make it to the mass media and we are fed this information by the news and other sources of information. There is however information that will never make it to the media, and most of this includes human emotion and sentiment. Media listening agencies have been trying to capture sentiments of comments and interactions. Yet the most effective way is simply for a leader to get face to face with someone, and then you can make your own observations about the sentiments, but more importantly understand the drivers behind the sentiments you are hearing. Without sentiments and understanding of the emotions of people, we will never be able to understand the WHY. In turn, without this understanding, we would find it extremely difficult to serve people, hence the reason why so many leaders fail in the world. They often develop into Toxic Leaders who are no good for themselves or the organisations they find themselves in.
Who are we listening to? – Listen to those who have an opinion. We often talk about thought leadership. Never forget that it’s not just the leader who is supposed to think. Can you encourage others to share their opinions with you? Will you listen without judging, making the other person comfortable to say what they really want to say?
What is our duty as listeners? – Your duty as a listener is to listen beautifully to others; when we listen with intent we discover the three levels of listening: 1) People will tell you want you want to hear. 2) People will tell you what they want to tell you and if you listen long enough you will discover 3) People will tell you secrets.
How can we show more empathy when listening? – The meaning of empathy is walking in someone else’s shoes, therefore we should try to imagine ourselves in the situation that is being shared with us. This will allow us to understand better and, when we have finished listening, to give better feedback. Remember we should never assume that the person you are listening to has finished speaking. Always work with silence and when you think the other person has completed what they have to say, simply ask them if they would like to say something else, or get them to expand on something you feel was important to them. You will know this by the emotion or lack of it expressed by the person when they are speaking.
When do we know we are not listening? – When we hold our opinion and wait to interrupt, we are not listening. Learn to concentrate on what the other person is saying, try and learn something. If this is your intention, you will become a better listener.
For further inspiration please read Thinking – 10 Disruptive Possibilities
Join me for the next three parts of this series when I discuss the attributes a future leader requires: The Communicator, The Connector and ultimately The Leader
Let’s start the conversation about Leadership, I am ready and listening.