The Connection Between Leadership and Listening

For some students and even young professionals, the concept of leadership is tied to barking orders and telling people what to do. While leaders do need to be able to effectively assign tasks, by and large, the exact opposite is true. Employees are drawn towards supervisors and managers who recognize their worth and take time to hear out their ideas and concerns. Leaders with poor listening habits and superiority complexes may get the job done in the short term, but they will fail to connect with and inspire their staff and fail to reach their full potential. Here are some of the ways great leaders avoid making common listening mistakes.

Good Leaders Don’t Practice Authoritative Listening

As you might infer, authoritative listening occurs when the listener assumes a position of authority and begins defaulting to provide unsolicited advice or direction. In a manager/employee dynamic, and example might be a direct report venting about a common paperwork process inefficiency. An authoritative listener will immediately tell the person what they need to do or what they should do to fix it. This is an example of poor leadership because it is a case of lecturing, not listening.

Good Leaders Aren’t Trapped by Defensive Listening

Effective leaders can accept constructive criticism; in fact, they welcome it. On the other hand, weak leaders become defensive when faced with anything that challenges them. They offer excuses or shift blame, which is inherently counter-productive.

Good Leaders Know Better Than to Use Judgmental Listening

Judgmental listing is sort of an inverted twist on defensive listening. When this happens, the listener takes the speaker to task for not being able to say or do anything right. Every word is subject to scrutiny. It’s easy to see why this is a failure of leadership; it cuts the employee down to size and makes them reticent to ever speak up about anything again.

Good Leaders Fight the Urge to Conduct Assumptive Listening

Finally, assumptive listening is not as egregious as other bad habits, but it is very hard to overcome. Imagine you, as a manager are in a hurry or have high priority projects waiting at your desk. An employee stops you to discuss an issue. You see where the conversation is going, and you try to hurry them along by completing their sentences and trying to force them to the point more quickly. Even if your assumptions are correct, you are wrong to do this. It insinuates that you are annoyed by the speaker and have better things to do.

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