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Listen - it's your secret leadership advantage

So often we’re too busy to listen well. Too busy with our daily tasks and to do lists. Too busy in our minds thinking about our tasks and to do lists. Most of us know that listening is important and still put it at the bottom of the priority list.


On the flipside, you know the feeling when someone – especially a leader – doesn’t listen to you. You feel ‘smaller’, unimportant, uninteresting, less motivated to share your ideas and less engaged. The benefits of listening well as a leader outweighs the benefit of getting on with tasks without listening well.


Quality listening is your secret advantage because:


You are more informed

By keeping your ears open you learn new things, you hear what is really going on and you get a sense of what’s not being said. As you get known to be a good listener, people tell you more, which allows you to be even more informed.


You attract the best talent

We feel valued when we feel heard, even if people disagree or don’t take up our ideas. It’s an under-utilised leadership skill that boosts engagement. You build trust by being present and understanding people. You model inclusiveness. People can be themselves and feel valued for who they are. Your listening allows you to ask great questions and coach people. Leaders who listen are talent magnets.


You enable innovation

When you model good listening, teams listen better. With good listening in teams you encourage creative thinking. Teams build on each other’s ideas rather than competing and shooting ideas down. Your listening also leads to good questions to help people to think. It leads to critical thinking, constructive conflict and debate, which are key to innovation.


You speed things up

How often have you had to revisit a decision/agreement or to do rework due to misunderstandings or misalignment? When you get better at listening, you can ‘hear’ misalignment and address it early. Listening well may take more time initially, but alignment and understanding speeds things up overall. This is the case of go slow to go fast.


You collaborate more effectively

Collaboration is often key to successful delivery – both internally and with external partners. With great listening, you build trust, understand their drivers and what matters to them such that you can influence them better. You ask better questions to ensure understanding and alignment. As your collaboration partners feel heard and valued by you, they will listen to you more, which further increases your influence.


You lead change more effectively

When you’re leading change, listening to how people are responding to the change, ensuring they feel heard and understood, results in people accepting the change more easily. Even if they don’t agree with it, at least they feel heard. When you listen to people’s concerns, you can support them to work through them. It takes patience, and it’s a case of go slow to get results.


What advantage will you gain if you listened better?


Related articles:

Are you unlocking or locking up the dormant talent in your team?

7 steps to extract value from people who disagree with you

The Most Problematic Leadership Gap: The Knowing-Doing Gap



I am celebrating the launch of my book – Start Inspiring, Stop Driving – in digital format by committing to donate all profits from book sales in October and November to my wonderful client, Good Shepherd Microfinance. My book is available for purchase at in physical and digital formats.


Good Shepherd Microfinance is a leading not-for-profit microfinance provider in Australia, offering no or low interest loans and other financial services to people who are excluded from mainstream financial services.

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