Are You Listening?

7 08 2009

Listening is a vital discipline for any manager or leader. This is especially true for influence leaders.  In the beginning of a thing, whether it be a project, a social event or something else, leaders who weave active listening into their repetoire will always get a better result and come much closer in the end to what the customer, bride, manager is asking for.  And all involved with a team where the lead is a good listener will have a better disposition.  Team morale will  be higher because the influence leader knows how to consult and take the information and transform it into something tangible that will have meaniful and measureable impacts.  For instance, over my 13 years as a  lead/program manager there have been times when I’ve had to listen to team member issues “off the record” in confidence.  That meant that I  could not use the information in a way that would reveal who told me because I agreed to listen in confidence, I had to honor the request  to maintain or build further trust from that team member.  This is a very important concept because without trust you have nothing.   Revealing that team members name sometimes is tempting because it seems like the easiest way to get the job done, but it would a mistake. It violates the principle of active listening because I would only be choosing to hear what I want to hear and ignoring the fact that I was asked to keep it in confidence.  I’m not talking about anything illegal or immoral here, since of course that would be a different situation and would need to be handled differently.  I was able to take the information and influence managers to make adjustments that resulted in more efficient processes which saved time and money without ever naming anyone.  That is what influence leaders do, we actively listen, which builds a bridge of trust, which opens the lines of communication, which equips us to make positive and impactful change.