The art of listening is essential for mindful leaders. When we think we already know what someone is going to say, or hear something that contradicts what we think or feel, we often stop listening. We fail to acknowledge that we don’t know what we don’t know, and begin crafting a solution and response. In the process, we hold on to bias, beliefs, and pre-conceived notions.
Although the art of listening is frequently the difference between leadership success and failure, it is often taken for granted, and rarely taught in schools—at any level. We have an urgent need for leadership development in the art of listening.
Despite all of the resources available to leaders today – books, articles, seminars, coaching and training programs – employees remain dissatisfied with leadership, their jobs and the future. After decades of attention paid to building better leaders, overall workforce distaste and distrust show little improvement. The managerial mindset is also stagnant.
Leaders develop and use communication—a soft skill—to work with others, recognizing that success relies on unity and collaboration. When combined with the traditional hard skills of quantitative analysis and decision-making, communication rounds out a leader’s ability to bring people together and achieve high performance.
Leaders continue to assume greater responsibilities and pressures as markets and technologies call for increasingly faster commerce, responses and results. Information overload and business volatility have become the norm, requiring nimble management and staff interconnection. Leadership success depends on a most essential professional skill: strategic communication.
The most powerful truths are often the simplest. Just as negativity causes myriad organizational troubles, positivity has the opposite effect. Logic tells us that a positive approach has to be better than a negative one. We glean this from our experiences and the common sense we’ve acquired. Evaluations of corporate performance and culture affirm that positivity is a powerful, yet often overlooked, force that can determine whether an organization will thrive or take a dive.
Management by walking around (MBWA) is a common management practice that can be very helpful in managing and engaging employees, setting a good example, and staying in touch with what’s really happening with employees.
It means that the manager leaves his or her office to go out “onto the floor” of the office, plant, lab, etc. and see what people are doing. The purpose is two-fold: both to learn what is going on and get a sense of morale, and also to demonstrate that you’re interested and present.
Here are 8 tips that will help you and your employees benefit from MBWA without it turning into “prowl, growl and scowl.”