There is listening and then there is listening. As I coach leaders and executives, I find one of the important differentiators between a good manager and a great manager is the ability to listen…really listen. Here’s what I mean. Really listening is the ability to turn off the voice in my head that tells me I should add a comment or tell my story or just take over. When I’m “just listening” sometimes I find I can fall into a conversational competition. You may have experienced it, too. It’s when I think I should add my insight because it will teach an important lesson (that they might otherwise miss), or add my description because it is better than theirs…or my experience is more meaningful. See what I mean?
When a leader can really listen by getting beyond their own interests…by getting their own agenda out of the way, they give an important gift to their employee – the gift of attention. The employee feels valued. It is a currency that is more valuable than money and one that retains and encourages talent. Just listening.