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As an executive coach, I’ve witnessed firsthand the transformative power of effective listening in leadership. I’m talking about more than just hearing; I mean understanding, empathy, and connection. This (often overlooked) skill drives collaboration, trust, and innovation within organizations, and is a key pillar for successful leadership.

Did you know? Employees who feel heard are 4.2 times more likely to have trust in their organization’s leadership. *

I had the privilege to work with Mark, a senior executive grappling with frustrations I see regularly. His team was increasingly disengaged and productivity was dwindling. Despite his best efforts, his team seemed disconnected, communication was strained, and he knew their morale was low. Mark reached out for executive coaching, hoping to find solutions to his leadership challenges.

After digesting feedback from his 360 leadership assessment, Mark realized he wasn’t listening to his team’s perspectives and needs. He committed to applying strategies to improve his listening skills. This was his first big step towards his goal of creating a culture of open communication and trust. He believed achieving this goal would positively impact productivity, morale and, ultimately, his team’s results.

Mark started making a conscious effort to listen actively during every meeting and proactively asked for input from team members. He stayed visually present during conversations, and valued contributions with his words and actions. He encouraged open dialogue and created opportunities for team members to share ideas and results. Finally, Mark set the expectations for himself and the team of full, respectful, attention, with no fear of judgement or repercussion.

Positive changes came quickly, as Mark prioritized effective listening and encouraged his team to do the same. They began to feel heard, valued, and empowered, and trust increased. As a cohesive group, they started contributing observations and brainstorming for solutions. Barriers between divisions started coming down, which supported increased efficiency. Before long, the team’s morale improved significantly.

Think you might benefit from becoming a more effective listener?
Here are three simple actions you can begin to incorporate today:
  1. Raise Your Self-Awareness: Take a moment each day to reflect on your listening habits. Notice when you’re tempted to interrupt or your mind starts to wander. By increasing your self-awareness, you can begin to identify specific areas for improvement and triggers that tune you out.
  2. Practice Active Listening: During conversations, focus on understanding the speaker’s intent and perspective. Maintain eye contact (but don’t stare 😂), square your shoulders toward the speaker, nod to show you’re engaged, and ask clarifying, relevant, questions to demonstrate your interest and assure mutual understanding.
  3. Encourage Open Dialogue: Support and model an environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas and concerns. Foster open dialogue by actively soliciting feedback and valuing diverse perspectives.

As an executive coach I’ve seen the remarkable results achieved by leaders who become effective listeners. This is not just a leadership trait; it’s a catalyst for organizational success. This week, I challenge you to pay attention to your listening habits. I bet just a few tweaks will give you great rewards.

Reach out today and learn how executive and senior leadership coaching can help your leadership team become REMARKABLE. 

*Gallup

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