Listening is a vastly underrated leadership skill.
We all know people who must fill in every gap with sound. It is as if a lull in the conversation might cause people to lose interest in them. There is a guy who hosts a technology podcast that is a round table discussion with two to three invited guests. But he talks right past his guests. Claims his early career in radio causes that. There can be no dead time in radio.
When you are in a conversation, where is your focus?
Are you focused on the other person; or are you focused on your response?
Leaders need, indeed good ones crave, input. We need all the ideas and insight we can get. Meanwhile others on the team need validation as a valued member of the team.
When you listen, you focus on the person. You watch their facial expression, posture, movements. Listening involves more than your ears.
Do you need to respond?
A good habit involves allowing a short break at the end of the other person’s speech. Pause, breathe, activate that switch between what was said and what you need to say. It’s like a timer in a control circuit.
What you say now has more impact.
Listening has always been an important leadership skill. Working with today’s workforce listening becomes an essential leadership skill.