Good listening is a critical skill for anyone especially leaders. This skill is often overlooked.
Stephen Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, said:
People don't listen to understand. They listen to reply. The collective monologue is everyone talking and no one listening.
Listening is a secret superpower we all have and it can provide huge benefits for us and our teams if utilised effectively.
There are several listening models - these can be described in different way. There is no right or wrong here. Personally, I like to think of this in three categories - these are layer of the onion if you like:
Attentive listeners focus on the speaker and work hard to eliminate distractions. They are also patient and let the speaker finish their thoughts without interruption.
Responsive listeners demonstrate to the speaker that they are listening and understanding what is being said, which encourages the speaker to continue. Encouraging responses may include both nonverbal and verbal cues, such as, smiling, nodding and interjecting with "ok"
or "uh-huh" at appropriate times.
Active listening combines the skills of attentive listening and responding. An active listener monitors the communication of a message at both the content and feeling level. They pay attention to what people say, how they say it, and why they’re saying it.
As leader, it's critical that we develop our active listening skills to fully understand the needs of our teams and build strong relationships.