Keys to effective listing and presenting in the work environment
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Listen up leaders!
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The success of a leader relies on the ability to unlock employee potential, find solutions, and meet organizational objectives.There are some practical tips to improve and leverage listening skills that will enhance your leadership capabilities.
Listen Up Leaders!
Blog, Employee Engagement, Executive Coaching, Human Capital Management, Leadership Development
The success of a leader relies on the ability to unlock employee potential, ﬁnd solutions, and
meet organizational objectives.
Yet when individuals are always looking to you for answers, it’s easy to fall into the trap of
providing an immediate solution to every challenge without ﬁrst taking the time to listen and
understand the full scope of the situation.
Here are some practical tips to improve and leverage listening skills that will enhance your
leadership capabilities. If you’re interested in a more hand’s on approach, consider hiring an
executive coach to help you effectively improve your leadership style fast.
It Pays to Slow Down
In today’s fast-paced digital era, you don’t have to scroll far on social media to ﬁnd troves of
industry leaders and managers competing to offer the “best” solutions to every problem they
come across, all vying to prove that they are the smartest, the wisest, and the one with all the
But there is a much-overlooked response to every question that can help you. That response
is simply to listen.
The top leadership consulting companies provide the necessary coaching and training
programs to its managers and leaders. If you hold a leadership or managerial role, you may
feel that you already spend a lot of time listening to others. You may even consider yourself
to be a good listener. But how often do you ﬁnd yourself lost in your note-taking, or
considering your own response before your employees have ﬁnished speaking?
In fact, studies show that we’re able to remember much less information from listening than
we think. Research carried out at the University of Minnesota shows that we only retain about
50% of what we’ve just been told. Listening is a skill that everyone needs to practice.
A Powerful Tool
Once mastered, listening can be one of the most powerful tools for anyone to possess. As a
leader, you have a key opportunity to take the time needed to understand everyone in the
workplace. When we are faced with challenges or situations that feel familiar, it is hard not to
jump to conclusions. We like to think that we’ve been here before and we already know the
But there is no one-size-ﬁts-all solution to any problem. Only by fully listening can you ensure
you’re asking the right questions and ultimately gain a better understanding of what’s going
Without fully understanding your subject, how can you begin to lead them to gain self-
awareness, clarify goals and unlock their full potential? In short, sometimes the solution is
not to provide an answer but to simply understand the problem.
The Value of Listening
The value of listening is often underestimated. Learning to truly listen is a skill that adds
immeasurable value to your executive toolset.
Below are just a few things that can be achieved through the power of listening:
A deeper understanding of a problem or issue
Stronger relationships with your employees, peers and clients
Showing others that you care
And that’s not all. By demonstrating your excellent listening skills, you can lead by example.
By showing the power of listening in action, you can help others in your organization
understand the value that listening can add to their own departments or roles. Show your
employees the importance of creating a reﬂective space and let them experience the power
of listening for themselves.
How can we improve our listening skills?
So how do you do it? The best way to improve listening skills is through active listening
techniques. Making a conscious effort to use some of these techniques will help you engage
with your employees and get the most out of every interaction. Some of these skills and
techniques may sound obvious when considered on their own. Combined, however, they will
produce powerful results.
Below are just a few active listening techniques you can employ straight away:
Make eye contact
Shut that laptop and other devices!
Simply making eye contact with the individual you’re speaking to can help you to listen more
effectively. When you’re truly present, you can process the information that is being given to
you much more easily.
Actively show that you have empathy for your employees and others within your organization,
and that you truly care about what they are saying. This will help to build a relationship of
trust and encourage them to really open up to you about the underlying issues or concerns
they may have.
Paraphrase what you hear
Paraphrasing key information to the individual you’re communicating with will demonstrate
that you have listened and understood what they have told you. This will give the person you
are communicating with the conﬁdence that their leader cares and is paying attention.
Ask open-ended questions
Open-ended questions require more than a simple yes or no answer. They require the
respondent to give more thought and consideration to their reply. An example of an open-
ended question might be, ‘What’s holding you back from reaching your goals right now?’. This
technique will help you uncover a deeper understanding of what is going on for your
employee or peers.
Take it slow
A conversation isn’t a competition!
Make sure there is space within the conversation for your counterpart to express themselves
without time pressure. You can dictate the pace. If you’re a quick thinker and the individual
you’re communicating with takes time to think, then it is your responsibility to give them the
room they need to breathe and think. Giving them this space will help to create a relaxed
environment where you can both get the best results.
Power of pause
Everyone hates an awkward silence, but sometimes our desire to keep a conversation ﬂowing
can stop us from taking precious moments to reﬂect. Hold back from ﬁlling every pause with
words and give the opposing communicator adequate time to stop and consider what they
are saying. You’ll get a more honest and considered response this way.
You might think you have the perfect solution to a problem yet resist the urge to jump right in
there! Interrupting can send a variety of negative messages to your client and can stop them
from opening up to you.
Don’t assume you know what’s going on. Respond to questions with questions and make
sure you really understand the situation. Drill down and ﬁnd out what your employees or
colleagues really think and feel. However, wait for the speaker to ﬁnish what they’re saying
before you break their train of thought.
Don’t just listen to what they’re saying
Don’t just pay attention to what others are saying; listen to how they’re saying it. And listen to
what they’re not saying as well. Sometimes a simple change in someone’s tone of voice can
speak volumes about how they really feel. As a leader, it is your job to detect these changes
and adjust and adapt accordingly. Situational awareness and emotional intelligence are key.
Make time to reﬂect on the information you’ve been given by others. How can this
information shape your actions as a leader? Give yourself moments throughout the day to
step back and consider the things you’ve learned. Are there more questions you need to ask?
Reﬂection is a huge part of turning the knowledge you’ve gained into positive action.
While a growing number of leaders these days seem intent on sharing their own knowledge
and offering solutions at rapid-ﬁre pace, there is a lot to be gained from making space to
absorb and process information. Listening is a fundamental skill for an effective leader, and
one that will earn you more than just valuable information.
Listening to your employees and direct reports will help you to build the relationship of trust
that you need in order to make a positive impact on their personal and professional
development. By employing these listening techniques, you will be able to take your
leadership to the next level beneﬁting yourself, others and your business.
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