As we approach the end of the year, it is a great time to take stock in how well we have performed as leaders. Did you accomplish what you set out to accomplish? Did you fall short in any areas and what might be the consequences? Did you make an impact on anyone’s working or personal life? If you could choose one thing to do-over, what would that be?
As leaders, we often have to make difficult decisions that might not make everyone happy. Sometimes I wish I could have a second chance and do things differently. Recently I designed a leadership program that I presented over a period of several months. Although the content of the training was valuable, I wish I had presented it in a different order. By the time I had gotten to present what I thought was most important, I was asked by the client to delay the course. If I had a do-over I would have begun the entire program with that material. I was really frustrated. I have learned from this experience and will approach my designing with this in mind.
What about you? One of the biggest challenges in leading is spending enough time listening to our team members. We are always being pulled in so many different directions that we don’t take the necessary time to strategically listen to one another. When you actively listen to someone do you:
- Use focused eye contact
- Ask open-ended questions: Who, What, When,Where, Why and How
- Show interest in what the person is saying
- Avoid interrupting the speaker and avoid interruptions from others
- Summarize what the person is saying to clarify the intention
- Use appropriate facial expressions so the speaker knows you are actually listening to the content
- Not jump to conclusions until you have heard everything
Becoming a strategic listener might be a great goal for the coming year. It is a skill that leaders can learn and practice and model. You will be noticed if you modify this leadership behavior. You will not need a do-over in your next conversation because you will get it right the first time around. Take the challenge. Give it a try!