So, How is Listening the Gateway to Superior Leadership?
From the previous article, you may now realize that your leadership is sending some messages that need fixing. So, how can you improve your leadership? The solution is to go out and LISTEN, listen to complaints about your support, messages of low standards. Then correct that condition and do it to the receiver’s satisfaction. This corrects the problem thereby making the worker’s job easier, corrects your poor leadership from misleading others and provides living proof that you really care about your people. In addition, this process of detection and correction teaches workers how to solve problems, how to treat customers and how to use value standards in the workplace. One stone can kill more than one bird.
Luckily for you, these workers don’t use the value standards they got from you to judge what goes on around them. What they use are their own value standards and all of their values are good, for instance everyone believes in honesty. Since each worker has different standards compared to the next worker, each will be bothered more by one thing, and less by another. Taken collectively, they disclose most of the problems, if not all problems. And by the way, if most of them line up against one particular thing, rest assured that thing requires major fixing.
So, get out with your people, listen to their complaints and suggestions, and take corrective action. Corrective action may be just an explanation of certain details unknown by the worker. Whatever it is, corrective action must be timely, of unquestionably high quality and must include getting back to the originator to find out if your intended fix is acceptable (don’t put the fix into action before getting feedback). As I mentioned in the previous article on Leadership through Support, this is your leadership and you want it to reflect only the highest standards for every value. The values of significance are: honesty, industriousness, confidence, positive attitude, compassion, humility, admission of error, perseverance, fairness, forgiveness, forthrightness, trust, courtesy, grit, heroism, knowledge, integrity, quality, loyalty and selflessness.
Listening itself must be conducted in such a way as to reflect high standards of the above values. Your tone of voice and attitude are crucial. You must make clear that you know you are making the worker’s job more difficult than it should be, albeit without intending to do so, but that you are willing to make needed corrections. Let them know you are the supplier of support and they are your customers. Act like it, body language, facial expressions, smiles, etc! The customer is always right so, act that way and say it several times. In addition, you may have to ask questions to flesh out the problem or to get the worker to talk. Suffice it to say that bosses are scary people in general and you need to gain the worker’s trust before they can really open up. Making clear that you are their servant as concerns support issues is a big step in the right direction.
After you start hacking away at the forest of your bad or low quality leadership, workforce performance will improve almost in lockstep. Don’t be surprised, just keep at it. It makes no difference if you are a lower or higher level boss, the effect on the people for whom you are responsible is the same.
Listening has a large number of associated positive effects as well as opportunities for superior leadership not mentioned herein. The only additional effect I will discuss is commitment.
Please stay tuned to tomorrow’s article on Gaining Subordinate Commitment.
Dr Surya M Ganduri, PhD. PMP. is the Founder & President of eMBC, Inc., an international firm specializing in strategic and executive leadership development processes that Help People Succeed in an Evolving World. Dr Surya has over 28 years of business experience in management consulting, leadership development, executive coaching, process improvements, organizational development and youth leadership. For more information visit www.eMBCinc.com or contact eMBC, Inc., directly at (630) 445-1321.