5 Little Things That Make a BIG Difference as a Leader – Part 2: Listen Up!

This is the second part of a five part series about the little things a leader can do that could make a BIG difference in how they are perceived as leaders.

I have bad news and good news for all of you leaders and aspiring leaders.

You decide which you’d rather read first. Start with the good or jump to the bad and come back.

The Good News:

The ability to listen has been identified in study after study as one of the most important leadership skills – if not THE most important – than any other.

When you listen, you’re seen as a leader that:

 Is trustworthy

 Is patient

 Cares about others

 Is respectful

 Is compassionate

The ability to listen to employees, manager, peers, coworkers, and customers is a core, foundational skill for successful leaders. The ability to listen is key to:

 Developing and maintaining relationships

 Making good decisions

 Solving problems

Now here’s the good news:

Listening is one of the EASIEST leadership skills to learn and apply! We were born with the ability to listen. It’s a natural gift. Most people already know how to listen, and when they choose to, can do it very well.

If you want to listen, but for some reason you really don’t know how, no worries.

All you have to do is keep your mouth shut. Then, listen like the CEO is talking to you. Or like you’re on a first date.

If that doesn’t work for you, then there are plenty of books, videos, courses, and blog posts with excellent, proven tips. No need to repeat them all here. With a few tips and a lot of practice, you’ll be astounded with the results.
Talk about little things that will make a BIG difference – what other skill could give a little this kind of return on investment? Give it a try. Sit back and watch your relationships improve – at work and in your personal life.

The Bad News:

Listening is one of the lowest rated leadership skills for executives. It’s an average rated skill for individual contributors and managers, then takes a nose-dive for executives. It’s one of the most common flaws I see on 360 assessments. It’s the number one reason employees think their bosses are jerks.

The botom line: poor listening is a significant contributor to executive derailment (failure).

When you fail to listen, you’re perceived as someone who:

 Is insensitive to the needs of others

 Is arrogant, impatient, or uninterested

 Is dictatorial

 Makes others feel stupid or unintelligent

 Is close-minded

Failure to listen can result in:

 Disastrous decisions

 Mistakes

 Bruised and unproductive relationships (both at work and home)

…..and eventually, if not addressed – you’ll go down in flames.

If you’re seen as a bad listener, in most cases, it’s because you’re making a CHOICE not to listen. To be blunt, you’ve gotten so full of yourself (due to your success), that you don’t have the interest or patience in what most people are saying.

If you don’t believe me, try asking for feedback. Ask the people in your life that matter to you how well you listen – and what it means to them when you don’t. If this little scolding has already caused you to see the light, then go back to the good news. There’s hope for you. Good luck!