Listening is a Leadership Skill

woman listening with her hand cupped to ear
© Vladimir Voronin – fotolio.com

By TAPE CEO/President Louisa Jaffe

One of the common misconceptions of leadership is that respect comes from controlling others. My concept is exactly the opposite: recognition comes most quickly, first and foremost, by being a good listener.

Being a good listener allows us to identify really outstanding ideas that may be game-changing concepts. We might miss these new ideas unless we are really listening.

On the other hand, we must also be listening for inconsistencies between the desired result and what the speaker is saying about how to get there. I believe we have a responsibility to speak up and ask the person to clarify.

When we speak up, it promotes communication. That, in turn, stimulates the creative process and, ultimately, we come up with better solutions. Giving constructive and interactive feedback is crucial to good listening and good leadership.

Speaking up does NOT equate to dictating actions to others or being controlling in any way. It DOES mean acknowledging, recognizing and praising really good ideas when we hear them, giving credit where credit is due, as well as identifying issues that need more development prior to execution.

A leader doesn’t agree for the sake of agreeing, or reject an idea without exploring alternatives. A leader gives credit where it is due, while not accepting foggy or unclear logic, including from oneself!

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