Empathetic Leadership and Active Listening Skills
One of the cornerstones of active listening is being prepared to challenge long-held, cherished assumptions. Being an empathetic leader who listens actively, enables drawing out of critical information and harnessing the power of innovative ideas to secure astonishing improvements in motivation, morale and energy of their subordinates.
Active Listening Matters
To a large degree, effective leadership is effective listening. Active listening helps leaders know ‘what makes their subordinates tick’, what they value as rewards for a job well done. This fosters cohesion, commitment, trust, reduces conflict. When leaders fail to listen, the communication gap inhibits loyalty, becomes a stumbling block for business growth.
Active listeners stay engaged in conversations by asking questions, showing interest and listening without being judgmental. Successful leaders understand that listening is an art acquired and developed by committing time and resources to it. However being a good listener is hard work as most people listen not with the intent to understand, rather with the intent to reply!
Effective leadership is not only listening but executing strategies to prove to the employees that they have been heard. Effective leadership is about working WITH the staff to help them get what they truly want – recognition, respect, job satisfaction or income, harmony with the organisational goals.
Active listening requires both deliberate efforts and a keen mind. Effective listeners appreciate flow of new ideas and information. Organizations that follow the principles of effective listening are always informed timely, updated with the changes and implementations, and are always out of crisis situation. Active listening promotes organizational relationships, encourages product delivery and innovation, as well as helps organization to deal with the diversity in employees and customers it serves.
The hallmark of a great leader is that he is easily approachable and is willing to listen to what employees have to say. Empathetic leadership transforms a collection of talented individuals into a coordinated team that performs well together.
Active listening allows leaders to connect, empathize and truly hear their subordinates and make them feel valued.
The dramatic strides we have made in information-management efficiency and effectiveness suggest a promising future. But our listening practices, in comparison, are rooted in the past. In fact, the quality and efficiency of conversational listening have been seriously diminished. Organizations rise or fall according to the quality of their interactions and relationships.
Email has become the easy and quick way to communicate, share info, make requests and answer questions. Yet, there is a dark side to the endless flow of emails coming at us. Each of us may have 100 to 300 emails to read, delete, respond to, or act on each day. More disturbing is the fact that to a great extent, emails have replaced conversations. We simply do not make the time to connect with and maintain solid relationships with people, as we should. This situation can and must be remedied with a quiet mind and a full focus, not thinking what we’ll say, not problem solving in our minds, or even partially thinking of our own to-do list.
Almost everyone sincerely believes that he or she listens effectively. Consequently, very few people think they need to develop their listening skills. But, in fact, listening effectively is something that very few of us can do. It is not because listening effectively is so difficult. Most of us have just never developed the habits that would make us effective listeners.
Active listening creates a work environment in which employees become highly motivated, committed and fully engaged. Empathetic leaders who listen actively, earn employees’ trust and conflicts with a win-win approach. They better understand how to inspire a higher level of commitment in the people managed.
- Richard Branson (2012). ‘Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You at Business School,’Penguin Publishers
- John Baldoni (2003). ‘Great Communications Secrets of Great Leaders’ / Edition 1, McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
- Richard M. Harris, (2006). ‘The Listening Leader: Powerful New Strategies for Becoming an Influential Communicator’; ABC-CLIO, Incorporated