AB Thinks  →  14th February 2024

Four ways to enhance your listening skills as a leader

A huge 70% of transformation programmes fail.  

It’s understandable, therefore that companies are tell us they want to do things differently.

Mike Pounsford, Kevin Ruck and Howard Krais are co-authors of Leading the Listening Organisation: Creating Organisations that Flourish. Their study looks at how organisations can listen more effectively to their employees to drive better decision making, innovation and performance.

The lesson? The sound of success could be coming from inside the house. 

So, what does successful organisational listening look like? Howard, Mike and Kevin shared the four key attributes of the listening leader on a recent episode of The Internal Comms Podcast. 

We’re all guilty of listening to respond, rather than listening to understand. In leadership, it can be easy to fall into the trap of hearing exactly the point you want to hear in conversations with colleagues. 

Being open to listening – which could mean going out into the fray and gathering stories and feedback from colleagues from every corner of the business, or creating an open forum to gather feedback remotely – will help colleagues feel like they have a say in the direction of the business and empowered to voice concerns, but only if you practice…  

Once you understand what colleagues have to say, actually acknowledging their feedback and proving that you really have listened is the next stage of organisational listening success. 

If you want colleagues to input on strategy, direction, culture or any other company matter, you must ensure they feel heard. Be open to their feedback, but practice responsiveness – close the loop!  

Being able to step back from what you’re hearing helps the listening exercise take on much more meaning. In many organisations, leaders are disconnected from the issues that matter to more junior colleagues. Often, those colleagues’ opinions can feel far removed from leaders’ experiences.  

Practicing empathy and taking time to dig beyond the surface of what you’re listening to is key to true comprehension. 

Compassionate leaders accept that they don’t have all the answers. They don’t simply tell people what to do but engage with the people they know are the experts, or are at least willing to solve an issue, to find a shared solution. 

Want to take a deeper dive on organisational listening? Get more insight in the full episode.