Leadership requires you to have a strong voice. Good leaders speak vision, fight mediocrity, and inspire their team. The problem comes when your voice gets disconnected from the people you’re supposed to lead. That happens when you stop listening.
As leaders, it’s tempting to get so caught up in our own voice, in what we have to say, we drown out everyone else. The truth is that your voice is only as strong as your ability to listen. When you stop listening, your leadership voice falls on deaf ears because you lose touch with the very people you are leading.
Here are four dangers of not listening:
1. You lose touch with those you serve.
Why do you lead? Who do you lead? Are you listening to the very people your organization serves? You can call them customers, consumers, church members, the community, or even your family. Are you really listening to them? Do you care about what’s going on in their lives? Do you understand their needs? What systems do you have in place to make sure you don’t lose touch with those you serve? From listening sessions, to surveys, to coffee with key people, you need to build into your leadership routine active listening. Listen with curiosity, Listen by asking probing questions, and listen intently (no distractions) so you better understand how to lead those you serve.
2. You lose the heart of those you lead.
The act of listening itself — even before you take any action — builds trust and loyalty.
Active, engaged listening is essential to having the heart of those you lead. This is true in the home, in the church, and in the workplace. Focused listening, listening to understand, shows you truly care about the person talking. It says loudly that they matter to you and they are important to you. Empathetic listening – putting yourself in the shoes of the person you are listening to – will create an environment of trust and loyalty. If you stop listening, you will lose the heart of those you lead and when you lose people’s hearts, you have lost everything.
3. You miss the opportunity to impact change.
Change never happens in a vacuum and change is essential for success. No matter how great your leadership address is, the impact of change may only last as long as it takes people to get up and leave the room. True change requires a leadership address that communicates clearly that you care and know the people you are addressing. It is more than words to you. It is more than a great speech or a great sermon. It is you looking out over the people you lead and seeing them personally as people you care deeply about.
4. You will lose your leadership voice.
If you don’t listen to learn, to understand, to influence, to create, to advance opportunities or solve problems – soon you will lose your leadership voice. And when you lose your leadership voice, it is time to go home. People will stop listening to you just like you have stopped listening to them.
If you haven’t been listening, I challenge you to take some aggressive steps now to reset your leadership style. Pay special attention to the areas in your organization and the people in your organization who have grown silent. Just because people aren’t talking, it doesn’t mean that don’t have anything to say.
Set a new course of active listening. Listen with energy, commitment, and passion. Listen with curiosity to learn, asking questions and seeking to understand. Listen with empathy, caring enough about others to put yourself in their shoes. Take these steps and your leadership voice will grow stronger and your leadership impact will be greater.
What other dangers to you see in a leader who doesn’t listen?
“My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.” James 1:19-20