Can you picture this with me?
Someone walks in your office with a big problem…
They’re pouring out their woes and don’t get two minutes in and you already know the issue and exactly what needs to done. So your mind wanders its way thru the list of things needing to be done, you look at an incoming text alert, check your watch, check an email alert, then as they pause to catch a breath, you jump in to expedite the process.
The problem is…
The person standing in our office can sense we’re not tracking with them, they know we’re preoccupied and we end up burning leadership pocket change.
Great leaders do the following to grow their leadership pocket change…
Great leaders focus and listen when others are speaking. The people in your organization are the greatest assets you have, so focus on them. Ignore the phone, text alerts, put aside all the tasks screaming in your head and be attentive.
Great leaders know that when people talk they want to be understood. Leaders actively listen, working to understand the point and chase out a full understanding. If we miss the point, we miss learning the truth and many times the act of just listening and understanding is enough.
Most of us were born hearing well, but all of us must learn to listen well. Listening is a skill, an art that is in need of being cultivated. – Chuck Swindoll
Former Home Depot CEO, Frank Blake, tells stories of walking the floors of local Home Depot’s around the country, wearing the orange apron, and listening to the needs and input of customers. He was consistently and proactively doing town hall meetings with the associates to solicit their thoughts and feedback.
Proactive listening is being in a position to hear everything you need to know, proactively getting “out and about’ to listen. The higher up the organizational chart we go, the more critical it becomes to create those opportunities, the bigger the title, the more disconnected and insulated we become.
It has been said that Sam Walton the founder of Walmart was always proactively visiting stores.
“For a long, long time, Sam would show up regularly in the drivers’ break room at 4 A.M. with a bunch of doughnuts and just sit there for a couple of hours talking to them.” – Lee Scott,
Great leaders listen attentively, actively and proactively, yet ironically, when we move up, these are all areas each of us will struggle with.
Which of these skills needs your attention to better serve those you lead?
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