The LeadershipZone for better leadership

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The Listening Leader

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This week’s blog is all about communications: how we listen, what we say, how we say it.

One of the phrases that irritates me most is “communications needs to be two-way”.  If only it was as simple as that!  In fact communications are ‘factorial’ – which means that everyone is talking to pretty much everyone else.

Think about it:

  • If you lead a team of five people, there are six of you in conversation.  Hopefully they are each talking to you, and talking to each other as well.
  • To see how many conversations this actually is let’s call you, as Leader, number 1 and your team numbers 2-6: each team member is talking to 5 other people, that’s 6 x 5 conversations – 30 altogether.
  • Your team members don’t limit their conversations to each other; they have friends and family members, sometimes inside, sometimes outside your organisation

So if we want to communicate well, what can we do?

Paradoxically, the key factor in good communications is listening.  People who feel listened to are more loyal and committed than those who don’t feel listened to.  We call this ‘engagement’, and engaging people is the first step to great communciations.

In our  leadership coach training programme we show a video which highlights the four classic mistakes people make in conversations – ‘RADA’

  • Relating: we think we’re listening but actually waiting for our chance to jump into the conversation
  • Arguing: we think this is an opportunity for a debate, rather than a chance for someone to be heard
  • Dismissing: we don’t give people time to talk things through properly
  • Advising: we make the error of thinking people want our advice

So here in the leadershipzone, sometimes the simplest act of communications is just to listen.

I look forward to hearing your comments – what listening tools work for you?




Author: Helen Caton Hughes

Leadership and Team Coach based on inspirational and practical tools. Works with leaders around the world; trains coaches to International Coach Federation standards. Passionate about finding best ways for leaders to inspire themselves and get the best from their teams

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