Posts Tagged listening
I work for a leadership organization. On a daily basis, I am surrounded by comments, articles, research, subject matter experts, blogs, and books on how to be a great leader. I believe in these wisdoms and the years of research that the experts walking the halls around here have uncovered. They are prudent truths to me and I try to adopt these best practices every day. A few months ago, I made the decision to go back to school and pursue a Master’s of Science in Leadership. As if I am not inundated with enough about leadership, I wanted to learn how “outsiders” interpret what a great leader looks like, the experiences they’ve had with the leaders in their lives, and how they plan to be the best leader they can be both in and out of the workplace.
This educational journey has been interesting and exciting. What I find most intriguing are the vastly different interpretations of what makes a great leader and the behavior great leaders demonstrate day in and day out. I recently conducted a poll on Facebook and GovLoop and asked people what they believe to be the top three traits of a great leader. The responses I received were so varied. Some of them include thoughtfulness, integrity, consistency, good listener, collaborator, honesty, action oriented, passionate, empathy, and trust. After reading all of the feedback, I started contemplating whether or not there really is a general list of the best leadership traits. Does a leadership model, that we can provide to every individual that wants to be a great leader, really exist? Or does every individual require their manager or supervisor to possess the specific leadership skills that will motivate, engage, and help guide them to success? What if you find your dream job but not your dream leader?
Two traits that over 50% of the responders included in the conducted poll as a must-have in every great leader are communication and listening skills. These skills are critical to every single relationship you will encounter in your life. Sharing information, facilitating conversation, and listening to each other fosters trust and motivates people to want to do something good and productive. What I realized is that if we do find our dream job minus the dream leader, we have the ability to “lead up” and communicate our needs to our leader in order to create a successful relationship. This does require us as individuals to have good communication skills ourselves. An effective way to build on these skills for both you and your manager is to hold regular one-on-one meetings that will allow the two of you to discuss each other’s needs that will lead to goal accomplishment. After all, what should be equally important to the both of you is the success of the organization.
How are you leading up? Are you able to openly communicate to your supervisor the needs you have in order to be successful in your agency?
I recently posted a link to an article on my Twitter page about “leadership deficit” at government agencies. The article featured commentary by Ron Sanders, senior executive advisor and fellow at Booz Allen Hamilton. Sanders noted several reasons for this deficit in the public sector that include the GS classification system, the value of technical skills over the ability to inspire and engage, and the shortage of budget to allocate to federal management’s leadership development. What about listening skills?
People need to feel heard. In any relationship, effective listening may be the most important skill for building trust and creating a strong connection. Many managers believe that they are good listeners, while their employees feel otherwise. In his new book, Power Listening, chairman and founder of Ferrari Consultancy, Bernard Ferrari lists several behaviors great listeners demonstrate.
- Show respect – seek input and involve all levels of your staff
- Keep quiet – allow others to speak 80% of the time, while you speak only 20%.
- Challenge assumptions – seek to understand and challenge the assumptions that lie below the surface of every conversation
Listen to Blanchard Senior Consulting Partner and author Dr. Vicki Halsey give a brief overview of how managers can improve their listening and feedback skills in a way that leaves direct reports feeling heard and that helps them to focus on improving performance.
You can also listen to the entire webinar on how to develop an organization-wide understanding of how providing effective feedback, combined with good listening skills improves trust and respect between leaders and the people they lead.