All team leaders like to think they are excellent communicators.
Years of experience, strong professional relationships and a proven track record can lead to a certain amount of complacency.
Whether it’s natural charisma or an innate understanding of how to establish rapport, the techniques that you’ve grown to rely on can lead to an accomplished career as a team leader but that doesn’t mean you haven’t developed blind spots or stagnated in your development.
There are countless opportunities for growth over the course of your working life.
In this piece, we’re attempting to introduce team leaders to a key communication technique they may well have overlooked: listening.
Minimise distractions and involve everyone
Too often, companies fail to give their staff the option to give voice to their thoughts and realise their full potential.
When you don’t give everyone the opportunity to weigh in, you are neglecting a potentially useful source of opinions and ideas.
Team leaders that make a concerted effort to involve everyone in the team are more likely to yield positive, creative outcomes.
On top of involving everyone, it’s important to minimise any lingering distractions. Allocate portions of your day where you eliminate any impediments on your attention – buzzing phones, email notifications and instant messaging services.
Instead of being cut off mid-thought, you can give your staff the time and space to talk openly.
Ask the right questions
Being a leader isn’t just about dictating terms to your subordinates. Your voice doesn’t necessarily have to be the loudest in the room. Staying away from a confrontational approach will engender respect from your colleagues and foster a collaborative rather than confrontational atmosphere.
Part of getting to the heart of any issues members of staff may be experiencing is to ask the correct questions.
By asking your employees open-ended questions where you give them space to elaborate, you’ll more than likely get a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of their perspective.
At times, you can adjust your approach to ask more focused questions when necessary to provoke more direct answers.
Knowing when to deploy each approach is part of being an excellent team leader and running a business.
Recognising the efforts and ideas of others
It’s important to highlight the contributions of your team. Every employee has had an experience of failing to receive their due credit for something they’ve done. When their superior then goes on to claim all the credit for that piece of work, it becomes especially irksome.
That is why employees appreciate the attempts of a leader to recognise their hard work.
Knowing when to acknowledge the effort of a team member is something that can only be developed when you’re a strong listener and you have a firm grasp of every single person’s contributions.
Why listening is important
As a leader, it’s all too easy to put the needs of the company above the needs of its staff. Learning to listen is an underappreciated skill that puts your entire team in the position to succeed.