The ability to listen is an important skill for everyone, but it is absolutely vital in a good leader.
There are many important soft skills in business like empathy, creative thinking, and emotional awareness, but listening always comes out on top.
Here are the reasons why the ability to listen is the ultimate soft skill.
It Inspires Professional Development
There is a huge difference between simply being heard and genuinely being listened to. If you’re not doing the latter, people will start to notice and your business will feel the consequences.
“Leaders who listen are able to create trustworthy relationships that are transparent and breed loyalty. You know the leaders who have their employees’ best interests at heart because they truly listen to them.” – Forbes
When a leader actively listens to their employees it’s a lot easier for those employees to see that their leader genuinely cares. When the employee feels noticed and wanted they are always going to work harder.
Without it, Good Communication is Impossible
Business runs on strong communication between leaders, employees, departments—essentially between everyone. Without good listening skills, good communication becomes impossible.
“Judgment ruins active listening almost immediately. Even if you don’t agree with the speaker, you need to keep an open mind and try your best to see things from their point of view.” – Cameron Herold
When you possess strong listening skills, you are able to listen without judgment. There are always going to be people with different opinions than you, but that’s no reason to let it ruin your ability to communicate with that person.
You’ll Miss Out on Good Ideas
As a good leader, you know the value of new ideas. As a good listener, you know how to find them.
“In order to run successful meetings, you must engage every meeting participant, especially the ones who typically remain silent. With some encouragement, these people could really add value to the discussion.” – COO Alliance
With a strong listening ability, a leader can find the perfect ideas to improve their business while also making their employees feel appreciated and listened to. It’s a win-win.
It’s How you Problem Solve
When an employee feels as if you’re genuinely listening to them, they’re far more likely to take your input. Not only that but if you really are listening then you’ll likely learn useful information to solve problems as well.
“We’re more likely to accept suggestions from people we already think are good listeners. (Someone who is silent for the whole conversation and then jumps in with a suggestion may not be seen as credible. Someone who seems combative or critical and then tries to give advice may not be seen as trustworthy.)” – Harvard Business Review
When you listen, you learn the whole situation—that includes people’s feelings and opinions. When you understand those feelings it’s a lot easier to dig deeper into the roots of a problem.
Not Listening Could be your Downfall
Regardless of who you are or who you’re talking to, listening properly is vital. If you let the introverted ones be drowned out it could just about be your company’s downfall as it nearly was for 1-800-GOT-JUNK? back in 2008 when their introverted VP of Finance’s warning to minimize spending was drowned out. 1-800-GOT-JUNK? only managed to pull through because they learned the importance of good listening.
“As a leadership team, we learned that we had to listen and pay attention to everyone,” COO Cameron Herold told Harvard Business Review, “regardless of their communication style.”
Communication is vital and for that so is the ability to listen. Everyone benefits from a leader who listens well, including the leader themself. There is literally no reason not to do it.
If you have questions or would like more information, I’d be happy to help. Please send an email, and my team will get in touch with you!