Simon Sinek offers a simple, yet powerful, rule for leaders to be better listeners. Refrain from sharing your opinion until everyone else has spoken! It is his “Lesson Four” for successful leaders.
Your people are super-attuned to your words and behaviors and naturally search for cues to understand what your priorities are. This human tendency can get in the way when you want to hear their opinions, ideas, insights or concerns – to truly listen to them.
Inc. magazine recently shared three tips to help leaders “talk last” to ensure that their people talk first.
- Listen – and do absolutely nothing else! Don’t speak verbally or non-verbally. Do your best to eliminate gestures, head nodding, comments, affirmations, or concerns until all have shared and others have commented.
- Ask questions like an interviewer. When you do talk start by asking “unbiased” or clarification questions. Think of yourself as an outside interviewer who just wants to better understand what you have heard – with no stake in the game! Seek to discover the “why” behind their ideas and then the “how” before you add your perspective.
- Disagree and commit. If you have concerns about what you are hearing, continue to explore the reason behind their ideas until you completely understand the why – then share your ideas. If possible commit to trying their idea or search for potential alternatives that address all points of view.
I think you will be impressed by what you hear if your people have the space to speak – first!