How an innocent kid can teach you to be a better leader
Getting involved during listening makes an individual feel valued and heard, resulting in increase in sense of belongingness
I am sure you all must be surprised with the title of this article. It sounds crazy but believe me, it’s true!
Needless to say, the two most important traits of a great leader are - character and listening skills.
Yes, I will be talking about listening skills.
This is my personal experience with my 8-year-old little angel who helped me realize the true meaning of listening - nothing but being involved/engaged while listening.
Often it is said that a leader must be a good communicator. True, but this does not mean to just communicate the message, rather engage while communicating, which makes others feel important, heard or looked after. Communicating the message will not yield the same results as compared to when we involve our self in a meaningful conversation and meaningful conversations can happen only if we listen empathically to the others.
One evening after my long and bad day, when I reached home, my 8-year-old daughter was waiting to narrate her entire day’s story. She was pretty excited to see me and of course I was too. She gave me a warm hug and in high spirits, she started narrating her entire day’s activities without seeing if I was in a mood to listen to her or not. Did I have the choice to not listen to her? No way!!! She went on and on… she could have completed her story in just 2-3 sentences, but it took at least 25 sentences and close to 20 minutes for her to complete. During her conversation, I was interrupted a couple of times with my calls on the Blackberry and some strong messages on emails that required immediate attention. Yes, I made a point to continue to listen to her and still manage my so called important work. But it didn’t take much time for me to kill my daughter’s high spirits and enthusiasm because her dad was just hearing and not involved while listening to her. And I almost fell apart when she said- “You don’t have time for me. I wanted to tell you about my day before I go to sleep.”
I was shattered and only at that precise moment did I realize the true difference between listening and being involved during listening.
Don’t we do the same thing at our workplace with our peers, subordinates (I can’t mention Boss and customers)? Yes, we do and more and even more today because we are living in a world of distractions – Black Berry in one hand, iPad on the other, laptop on the shoulder, etc…
Not getting involved during listening, not only impacts the outcome of the message, but it kills the morale of an individual and eventually his enthusiasm level comes down, thus impacting efficiency and effectiveness of the organization.
As a true leader, getting involved during listening makes an individual feel valued and heard, resulting in increase in sense of belongingness to the organization by many folds.
So, let’s not kill anyone’s enthusiasm and spirit by passive listening!
On a lighter note, even God has crafted us to listen more and talk less by giving us two ears and one mouth.
Disclaimer: The content of the above article is solely written by the author based on his experience. The content does not represent any policy or means of approach used by his current or previous employer.
Neeraj Mohbe is Vice President International Operations at ACS a Xerox Company, having over 21 years of hands on operations experience in the manufacturing & outsourcing industry in India & abroad. Prior to joining ACS, he worked at GRO (Now Accenture), SourceHOV and Tata Exports Limited.