Have you forgone resolutions this year? The new year ushers in reflections on what was, what is and what will be. May we carry the resolve of reflection with us into the days ahead.
Jan. 19: Current cohort monthly seminar on strategic planning at Lane and interactive planning exercises using Appreciative Inquiry with Jen Steele, Deborah Butler and Lida Herburger.
Jan. 25: Alumni book club at 3 p.m. in Building 19, Room 142 to discuss selection, “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg.
- 10 a.m. to noon;
- 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Both sessions will be held in the Gender Equity Center in Building 1. The training is presented by Jenn Burlington of TransActive Gender Center. Check out http://transactiveonline.org for more information about the TransActive Gender Center.
The presentation is sponsored by International Programs, Gender Equity Center and Diversity Council. Employees will receive two hours of cultural competency professional development credit for attendance.
RVSP is requested to secure a spot: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfZV24PiLICg-RXcd42dCsedf9X2Lsx8gB66OxnrmbOGHVSWA/viewform
Leadership author, John C. Maxwell offers these tips on developing listening skills as a leader in an article he wrote in 2014 for the magazine, Success. In the article, he shares a story of the importance of not only listening, but asking the right questions.
The full essay and listening audit can be read in this link: https://www.success.com/article/john-c-maxwell-a-1-week-leadership-listening-challenge
Below is an excerpt of his listening audit:
The Listening Audit
The first step is to take an honest look at your current approach to communication. Start by asking yourself the following questions:
1. Am I open to other people’s ideas?
2. Am I open to changing my opinion based on new information?
3. Am I actively seeking feedback and input in order to move the team forward?
4. Do I act defensively when criticized, or do I listen openly for the truth?
5. Do I ask questions in every conversation?
At the end of each day, reflect on the day’s interactions—every meeting, conference call, phone conversation and so on—and calculate the percentage of the time that you spent listening as opposed to the time you spent speaking. How much of the day were you actively taking in information? At the end of the week, tally up your percentages and get an average. Set a goal to increase your listening percentage in the upcoming week. Be sure to track your progress.
What you are trying to develop are these five strengths of a listening leader:
Connecting. In my book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, I write about the Law of Connection, which states, “Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand.” You cannot connect with other people when you are the one doing all the talking! Do this intentionally. Stop, make eye contact and be fully present, and you’ll find yourself truly connecting—not half-listening.
Building confidence. Take time to listen to each person on your team. New people, in particular, offer a fresh perspective that can lead to valuable insights, but they may not feel they have the right to contribute their thoughts. Shake their insecurity by soliciting their ideas and taking those suggestions to heart. Henry David Thoreau once said, “The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when someone asked me what I thought and attended to my answer.” Don’t you feel the same way?
Soliciting ideas. Great leaders create an environment of innovation. That requires actively seeking out new ideas. I often find that listening precedes great periods of creativity in an organization. In the words of Richard Branson, “Any organization’s best assets are its people, and if you are ready to help the team to achieve its goals, you can start gathering information on how to move things along just by paying attention to what employees are saying.”
Taking action. With your new focus on intentional listening, you will probably find that you have an abundance of good ideas at your fingertips. Just hearing them isn’t enough. Good ideas have expiration dates. You need to act before they become dated, irrelevant or otherwise spoiled. A bonus: Members of your team will see your responsiveness, feel valued, trust you with their ideas and keep bringing them forward.
Reflecting nightly. Maximize your new habits by taking time before bed to think and reflect so you can process and apply what you have learned.
Do you want to increase your leadership capacity? Work on applying these practices on a consistent basis. Pastor and speaker Robert Schuller once said, “Big egos have little ears.”
I challenge you to become the opposite—a small ego with big ears. Because that’s the kind of person who truly excels.