need for leaders to listen should be clear. Leaders will not
maintain their position if they don’t listen well. Chief Executive
Officers and senior managers declare poor listening is the number
problem in their organizations at the same time that good listening is a
major determinant of success and promotions in the company. Leaders must
master three types of listening.
Listen to improve
Listening allows leaders to get into the world of their followers—to
see, hear, feel and understand as they do. Listening builds trust and
respect and communicates care and concern about others and what they are
saying. Leaders must be careful not to interrupt followers or become
judgmental of what they say. Also, rather than responding immediately,
leaders should reflect on what followers say and summarize the essence
of the message to demonstrate they were listening; this also gives
chance to clarify their messages if the leader’s summary demonstrates
lack of understanding.
must be spring-loaded and ready to listen. Many factors affect how well
leaders listen—emotional or physical health; environmental factors such
as room temperature or outside noise; stress factors such as weariness
or things weighing on the leader’s mind. Skilled leaders work hard to
offset or minimize such things. They also listen for ideas, not just
facts. Concentrating exclusively on the facts often causes listeners to
miss main ideas. Facts may be interesting in their own right, but the
reason facts are given is usually to develop a generalization or support
listening is necessary since leaders must make decisions and lead others
in making decisions that affect both people and the task at hand.
Leaders must know their own strengths and weaknesses as critical
listeners and know biases that may affect their judgment. And they must
always consider the source of their information as they make decisions;
for information is no better than its source.
Leaders must be