Why Listening is an Integral Part of Leadership

by Joseph Rodriguez

Leaders have all sorts of different qualities. However, all effective leaders must be able to listen, and listen well. Listening benefits every part of a group of people in a number of ways. This is especially true if you’re a parent of a developing child, so remember that developing listening as a skill and not just treating it as a task is a crucial component to leadership, for the following reasons.

For The Leader
First and foremost, leaders benefit from listening because it leads to compassion and empathy, allowing one to appreciate and understand what others have to say. If you hope to improve in your professional and personal endeavors, you’ll have to be able to gracefully take both criticism and comments in order to shape yourself. It’s nearly impossible for any person to be perennially successful with no help or assistance. Know when it’s time to ask for help. We all need it from time to time. If that doesn’t inspire you enough, then remember that your children’s attitudes and behavior will reflect yours.

For The Group
Whether we’re talking about the captain of a sports team, the supervisor for a group of employees, or the president of a club, your ability to listen is very important for all of those in your group as well. Members of all groups need to feel as though they can express themselves to their leader and explain when things aren’t going well. This helps maintain a sense of balance between a leader and their constituents (if you will). Creating distance between a leader and their group is a mistake, because communication will eventually suffer. In order for any group to be properly managed, communication has to be frequent and open. If you’re a parent, as mentioned earlier, remember this if your child is elected as a student council representative or captain of a sports team – and try to instill these values in them early on.

For Future Leaders
Eventually, every group will see a new leader come to power. Therefore, current leaders need to set strong examples for those who come after them. Ineffective leaders will mold ineffective leaders. Good leaders will shape good leaders. Leaders who fail to follow suggestions will isolate group members and create an unhealthy atmosphere. Have you ever been happy to imagine that someone isn’t listening to your needs? This is especially important for community groups with high turnover or yearly changes in elected leadership.

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Most groups don’t have a huge effect on society at large. The leader of a book club or card league isn’t going to create international mandates. However, some leaders do. If the mayor of a town or the principal of a school acquires a reputation as an isolated despot, then this will trickle down to the institution they represent. The general public is likely to take on a negative attitude about that collective body. This can result in outside suggestions falling by the wayside. Why would someone chime in with a great idea if they don’t expect the time of day? Remember this if you’re the head of a large corporate body or government branch – it can go a long way in ensuring you leave a positive legacy.

Clearly, good leaders need listening skills. Listening skills are the building blocks for meaningful communication. If a leader doesn’t listen, he or she is implying that the rest of the group’s needs aren’t important. No one wants to work or live under that kind of leader, so take the time to work on it. You’ll benefit from feedback in many ways, as will your peers and outsiders.

Joseph Rodriguez writes all about leadership and self-help. His recent work is on the best online child psychology programs.

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