Thursday, 24 November 2011

Too Much Listening or Too Much Talking?

As a leader, have you found the balance between listening and speaking up?

Listening is a critical, often underutilized skill.  Sometimes for leaders there is a temptation to do a lot of the talking.  In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of how important it is for leaders to be effective listeners.   But if listening is already your forte, you may need to do more talking. Speaking up is a good way to demonstrate your expertise and gain the confidence of those around you.  As a leader, too much listening can come across as a lack of confidence or knowledge.  Staff need to hear from you - in measured amounts.  If you're hesitant as a speaker, find a safe place to try it out first. Talk shop with your friends or colleagues to test your ideas. Then, refine them to share in a meeting or with your colleagues. Try to say something early on in a meeting, even if it's something small, to establish yourself as part of the conversation. The challenge here is to support your staff by speaking up enough to set the stage for the conversation without creating an environment where your staff will feel they need to echo your ideas.  It's a fine balancing act.  Listening is important, but so is speaking. Success depends on doing both.  Finding the right balance - to ensure you bring out the best in your staff - is the place you are aiming for.  It will take some time but the rewards of building the capacity of your staff are worth the effort.

Adapted from "Keep Listening, but Start Talking" by Whitney Johnson.

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