by Melissa Miller
The truth is, none of us are perfect, but there are a few behaviors that naturally make people feel more comfortable and appreciated. As business leaders, we are always reflecting an opinion of worth as we assess the value of our product, employees and peers. We are also pressed for time and working under extreme pressure, which can make it hard to focus on others and their feelings.
Mastering our communication as business leaders is the first step to building healthy relationships with those around us; and it makes a world of difference when building a company and an internal culture.
Let people know you are paying attention.
As the business leader, you may feel the urge to squeeze your vision and opinion into every conversation, but this can overwhelm other members of the team. Each business needs people who have the freedom to think creatively and openly with room for mistakes.
When you are in a position of power and you deny your employees the power of self-expression, you stifle productivity and morale. Allow your employees a space to share opinions and ideas. There are many different ways to encourage self-expression so think beyond meetings or conference calls.
When you are one-on-one with someone else or when someone else has the floor, remember that listening is an active process. Ask questions and maintain eye contact. Do not let your phone or computer distract you. Save your questions until the speaker has finished his or her thought. Write notes if necessary and do not dismiss or distract the speaker with an interruption.
Good leaders are good listeners because they understand that each person on the team has something valuable to contribute. As a leader, it is your job to identify the strengths of others and how it will advance your business. Every single person knows something you don’t and is more talented than you are in some way.
Be selective about your communication
While your employees are allowed to brainstorm freely, make mistakes and wander into uncharted territory – your communication must be pared down, pointed and clear. During brainstorming sessions, you should only contribute when you have something definitive to say.
Your own brainstorming sessions should be held within a trusted think tank, and while you may have more room for speculation, you should enter the session fully aware of the challenges you are hoping to solve.
Speaking before you have formed a clear opinion could make you seem unreliable if you are forced to change your opinion after more research. It can also lead to disappointment or wasted investment from your employees. Always choose your words carefully.
As a great listener, your attention truly is a gift. This means that you must be very selective about the amount of time you spend listening to others. Take the initiative to provide your employees with many different avenues for expression while managing your own time and priorities in regard to receiving input.
Take responsibility for failings and give credit for success.
You’re the captain of this boat, and as a captain, getting to shore is part of the job. Managing the boat when the seas are rough is also part of the job. Though you don’t do either alone, it is important to credit others for success and recognize your own faults when dealing with failures.
It seems like a simple piece of advice, but the human ego can often jump in the way of actually adhering to it. The first impulse in a crisis is to take the “heads will roll” approach. This is very seldom the necessary solution, and passing blame is more often a way to distract yourself from your own shortcomings.
Though humility is an admirable quality to display, it also has a tactical element. Each time you hold yourself accountable for a mistake, you will be better prepared to avoid mistakes or navigate a similar crisis in the future. Taking credit for failures simply makes you a better leader because it makes you aware of your opportunities to grow.
About the author: Melissa Miller is a freelance writer and blogger who loves to give education advice. Her articles often aim to help you on your way to landing associate degree jobs. If you have any suggestions or comments, shoot them to firstname.lastname@example.org.