“Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.” – Andy Stanley
Listening is an extremely valuable skill for business leaders and managers. However, when it comes to listening to honest feedback from your employees, you’ll also require humility. We naturally dislike it when someone disagrees with us or questions our ideas, but the best leaders know that they are not always right, and they take the time to listen to the opinions of others.
Have you ever shared a different view on an idea or new company policy and seen your boss’s disposition change towards you? Bad bosses are those who take it personally when you disagree with them and don’t appreciate truthful feedback. Instead of realising that their employee is proactive and enthusiastic, they may assume that they are unsupportive of the company or aren’t being a team player. This is not the way to be!
Creating a culture where employees agree with everything you say is damaging and it can lead to big mistakes that otherwise could have been avoided. Instead, you should:
Promote honest feedback
Ensuring you are an approachable and humble manager is key if you want to earn your team’s loyalty and encourage them to share their honest opinions. Many people think of humility as a weakness, but when it comes to leadership humility takes a lot of strength. The more humble you are, the more likely your team are to come forward and share their recommendations and suggestions with you.
A great way to encourage this, it to be transparent with your team so that they will be the same with you. If you are honest, you will earn trust and loyalty. Your team will want to be heard and respected and by listening to their thoughts you will be showing them you care. Indeed, it’s important to take note and act upon the feedback you receive to keep employee morale up and to show them they have been heard.
Let go of your ego
Ego makes us feel invincible, but it can also cloud our judgement and cause us to make poor decisions. It is also damaging to relationships, so if you’re a manager your ego has to go. It’s not all about you. Building a strong team of people who are smart, skilled and passionate is vital and the success you have is because of everyone in the team. If you have a team that always says yes and agrees with you, you could become dangerously overconfident and disconnected.
Whether you’ve been a leader for 1 year or 10 years, there’s always more to learn. Developing your leadership skills should be an on-going project and great leaders know this. You can learn and receive input both inside and outside your company and everyone you meet will have different strengths and expertise.
Bringing it all together
The more successful you are, the more important it becomes to keep in touch with your people and to welcome new perspectives and honest feedback. Huge businesses like Blackberry and Kodak have gone downhill because their leaders failed to do this. If you don’t listen and welcome different opinions, you won’t be able to steer your business in the right direction.
The companies that continue to be successful are those who can adapt to change and continually strive to improve. As a leader, your role is crucial, and it is down to you to encourage your team to be open and honest without any negative consequences. If you’re open-minded and listen to what they have to say, you and your company will be more successful.