“Listening can help leaders expand their understanding and make a positive impact on culture.” According to Cyndi Sax of the Association for Talent Development, listening can have a profound impact on your performance. In a recent blog post, she identified the impact of listening: “Listening provides you with access to a diversity of ideas and potential solutions you could not have generated on your own. Listening expands perspectives and enables an organization to proactively address potential issues rather than simply react to them after they escalate. On an interpersonal level, listening:
- strengthens relationships
- builds trust
- improves teamwork
- enhances credibility
- increases loyalty
- shows employees that you care.
In our research on Meaning-Centered Leadership we found strong evidence to support Cyndi’s claims. 83.9% of the followers interviewed in our study indicated that active listening is critically important or very important with regards to how a leader demonstrates character, a basic building block for trusting relationships. We also uncovered strong agreement among leadership experts that listening is an essential leadership skill. The author of Servant Leadership, Robert Greenleaf stated, “…true listening builds strength in other people.”2 In the book, A Leaders Legacy, James Kouzes and Barry Posner claim, “Leadership is a relationship.” They go on to state that leaders who treat their followers with dignity and respect see significantly higher performance.3 Active listening builds trusting relationships, communicates that you care and helps to build engagement.
Meaning-Centered Leadership: Why Meaning Matters to your Organization, our soon to be published book, establishes engagement, empowerment, and expertise as critical elements of highly impactful leadership. Engagement begins by building trust and showing care and concern. A leader does this by actively listening. By listening to others, a leader deepens their impact by setting the stage for conversations to take place about things that matter deeply. The trusting relationships you build by deepening your active listening, allow you to build bonds that will enable your team to work through difficult issues. It is in this challenging work, that your team will become inspired by the better future they are creating. It is here where you and your followers will experience the deeply transformational power of meaning.