Listening as a Leader

“Listening is not a matter you can delegate, no matter who you are”    

 Fergal Quinn, Founder of Superquinn

While some leaders think it is their job to deliver the message, good leaders recognise the importance of listening. Listening is a major part of communication and true listening is a highly developed skill. It shows respect and that you value people.

Below are some solutions to the key issues supervisors on our Essential Leadership series identified in terms of listening.

How can I really listen?

  • Provide the time to listen and stop what you are doing – remove distractions.
  • Get in the right mindset to want to listen and be open to what they say
  • Be in the moment and clear your mind of any ‘baggage’
  • Have eye contact
  • Use open body language
  • Maintain full interest and focus
  • Empathise with the speaker
  • Ask questions to check your understanding
  • Encourage them with nods, mms and smile.

How can I ensure people are listening?

  • Use good eye contact, because you can then pick up their body language
  • Make what you have to say interesting in content and delivery style
  • Stop speaking and pause. Silence normally brings people back to you
  • Ask questions of understanding
  • Involve them in the conversation rather than make it a monologue
  • Delegate the running of meetings to others so you can focus on listening and observing.

How can I make sure my communication is understood?

  • Plan what you want to say and the outcomes you want
  • Be clear and concise in what you say. Remember K.I.S.S. – keep it simple and straightforward
  • Say it with good diction and emphasise key points
  • Make sure you have their attention without distractions
  • Ask open questions of understanding or ask them to summarise what you said
  • Avoid questions such as ‘So did you understand that?’ Or ‘is that clear?’.

“The Chinese verb to listen includes 5 characters – ear, you, eyes, individual attention and heart.  The art of listening involves all of our being” Linda Field


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