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What does it take to be a leadercommunicator?

The Grossman Group CEO and communications expert David Grossman shares his insights on the importance of meaningful leadership communication in today’s business climate. With high level tips on engagement and connection, insights into employee motivations and behavior, and firsthand stories from the frontlines of America’s leading companies.

The leadercommunicator blog is instructive, entertaining, and a must-read for leaders, communicators, and leadercommunicators.

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Show you care: Be an active listener

  
  
  
  
  
  

describe the imageLeaders inspire their teams by showing they care. One of the most important ways leadercommunicators show they care is to listen – truly listen – to what people have to say. 

Managers who make the effort to listen to employees can be rewarded with positive relationships, commitment and engagement that spur an organization’s success. Inviting employee input is one thing, but the proof that you take it seriously comes from taking action.

To create a culture where people feel their input is valued, you must work to facilitate dialogue.  As with any culture, senior leaders need to set the tone, model active listening behaviors and establish expectations and accountability for the entire organization.

Here are some easy steps to demonstrate active listening:

Approach each dialogue with the goal to learn something and think of the person as someone who can teach you

Stop talking and focus closely on the speaker. Suppress the urge to multitask or think about what you are going to say next

Open and guide the conversation with broad, open-ended questions such as "how do you envision..." or "what other strategic alternatives did you consider?"

Drill down to the details by asking directive, specific questions that focus the conversation, such as "Tell me more about...," "How would this work?" or "How did you come to this conclusion?"

Summarize what you’re hearing and ask questions to confirm your understanding, such as "If I’m understanding you..." or "Tell me if this is what you’re saying...."

Encourage with positive feedback. If a speaker lacks confidence or has some trouble expressing a point, encourage them with a nod, a smile or a positive question to show your interest.

Listen for total meaning. Recognize that, in addition to what is being said, the real message may be non-verbal or emotional; seek true understanding and be sure to respond with empathy.

Pay attention to your responses. Be aware of your body language and recognize that the way you respond to a question also is part of the dialogue. Keep an open mind and show respect for the other person’s point of view even if you disagree with it.

As a leader, how does your culture encourage dialogue?  How could you model and encourage listening?

 

 

- David Grossman 

 

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Comments

All true, David. But there are two more critical actions I teach in my classes. Rule #1 is to turn off, or at least turn away from, the electronic distractions. Turn off the phone, look away from the computer screen, and focus on the speaker. To do otherwise suggests to the speaker that they are less important than all those other people, plus neuroscience makes it clear our brains cannot really multitask without losing significant information. 
 
Harder to ignore is the noise in our heads. I fully support your point about thinking of responses. I encourage people to treat listening like a meditation, where they focus completely on the other person’s words and ignore their own voices in their heads. This is by far the most efficient way to achieve several of your excellent suggestions, such as “Listen for total meaning,” and “Pay attention to your responses.” Thanks for the suggestions. 
Posted @ Tuesday, August 24, 2010 12:13 PM by Jim Morgan
Jim -- 
 
 
 
Excellent points and adds on a critical topic. Appreciate you sharing your thoughts. Best, David
Posted @ Wednesday, August 25, 2010 6:30 AM by David Grossman
Agreed, and I'd add that it is also important to know how you listen; that is, understand your listening habits so you can align the way you listen with the way others listen. I developed an instrument that assesses listening habits so that people can understand their habits, their impact at work, and develop right fit.
Posted @ Thursday, August 26, 2010 5:51 PM by Marian Thier
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