Leaders are often perceived as those who take the most action. They’re the people at the forefront of important issues who always know what to do. They seem to be prepared for anything. However, this is far from the truth. While leaders do need to be the ones to take action, the action is preceded by research, accompanied by uncertainty, and sometimes followed by regret.
This is why it’s essential that leaders practice close listening.
Since no one person can have the right answer all the time, leaders need to lean on the support of their team to make the best decisions. This way, they can hear different perspectives, get insight offered by experts in topics they don’t know much about, and make the best decisions for everyone. Close listening will not only make for great business outcomes, they will lead to happier employees, better company reviews, and satisfied customers.
Improving Business Outcomes
As a leader, you get to figure out which style of leadership is the most effective for you and your team. Your leadership style will have an enormous influence on your business outcomes, as it will affect all areas of your work, including team interactions and business management.
Typically, your leadership style will fall into one of five common leadership styles which are also common in the medical field, including: transformational, transactional, autocratic, laissez-faire, and democratic. While each style has its own strengths and weaknesses, the democratic style is the only one that truly relies on listening to others.
For that reason, democratic leadership can encourage bigger-picture thinking and make room for new ideas that will make your company successful. According to Villanova University, listening is truly one of the most important skills that count in business: “By stepping out of their comfort zone and listening to new insights, leaders can develop a more engaged sensibility about their field as whole as well as innovative ideas for future tasks and endeavors.”
Increasing Employee Satisfaction
Employee retention is key to a successful business. To achieve a high retention rate, you need to cater to your employees’ needs, and listening is a great way to do this. According to leadership expert Martin Edwards, “listening shows that you value the other person and that you are open to the possibility of change. Interrupting shows that you think you or your opinions are more important.”
Listening, rather than interrupting your team members, can improve your relationship with them, as well as boost their work morale. You can practice close listening by asking your team members for their opinion on matters they handle closely. Every member of your team can fill knowledge gaps in your company. You can also invest in your employees’ skills to increase their level of knowledge and skill.
By listening to your employees, you can really make them feel valued. This is a huge factor in workplace satisfaction, which in turn can result in more motivated employees. Potentially, this will increase the productivity in your office and improve the quality of work done by your employees. In this way, listening as a leader opens up doors for your company to succeed in ways it couldn’t otherwise.
Satisfied and Returning Customers
Lastly, though just as important, is improving your customer relationships. To improve your business, you should always be making tweaks and changes to fix any problems or faults you find in your system. However, no matter how many changes you make, you likely won’t make a real improvement unless you take customer feedback into consideration.
Of course, if you can quickly change your product to better satisfy your customer’s desires and needs, that’s great. However, not all companies have the ability to do that, and if they do, it will take several weeks or months to get updated products out to the public.
In the meantime, there is one quick and easy way to improve customer relations: responding to customer reviews. Hopefully, your business takes customer reviews seriously, because they can have a great impact on client perception. Plus, they can increase your online presence and improve your SEO, making it great for marketing as well. Additionally, responding to comments on social media can help build a good rapport between you and your customers. Since not all companies do this, it can be a fun and unique way to interact with your customers.
No matter what kind of business you run, you should strive to improve your listening skills in order to become a more effective leader. By doing so, you open your business, team, and customers to a whole new level of excellence. As a leader, you can’t be always everywhere all at once, but by listening to others, you can always better your business, one idea at a time.
She spends her days pondering what makes a good leader, and dreaming up ways to teach these virtues to her sons creativity enough that she’ll get more than groans and eye rolls in response. To read more of her work, follow her on Twitter @faulknercreek