Listen, then act

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One of the reasons why leaders lose their effectiveness, or get de-railed, is they lose a connection with their people. They lose a sense of how they are perceived and may even feel that they are not being listened to.

The perception that a leader has of himself or herself, versus the perception that followers have, ends up creating a gap. The larger the gap, the less effective a leader is.

Two questions worth asking are:

  • Does the leader have the capacity to reflect on his behaviors and know that a gap exists?
  • Is he willing to look in the mirror and face up to the behavioral changes that need to be made in order to increase his effectiveness?  

Often, I hear dairy employees say, “I only ask that before my boss comes criticizing and breathing down my neck, telling me what I am doing wrong and hammering on me, that he takes the time to ask me questions and hear my version of it.” But, all too often, the boss yells first and asks questions later.

If this is the kind of culture you want to promote on your dairy, then go ahead and continue with this behavior. If you want to establish a culture of listening and empowerment, with people feeling engaged, then some behavioral changes and adjustments may be needed.

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood” is habit No. 5 in Stephen Covey’s best-selling book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” This is one of the most important principles of interpersonal relationships.

Effective listening is not simply echoing what the other person has said through the lens of one’s own experience. Rather, it is putting oneself in the perspective of the other person, listening empathically for both feeling and meaning. This creates engagement and empowerment in people. It tells people: “My boss cares.”

It is a practice we encourage leaders to adopt as they learn coaching skills for higher leadership effectiveness. 

The fast-paced life on a dairy can be detrimental to taking the time to do this. If we only take a few seconds to slow down and listen to people, we might gain some information that is critical to the success of the people — and eventually to the success of the dairy.

What do you accomplish when you show up and hammer on people without even finding out what happened? On the other hand, what results do you get when you take the time to find out what happened first and get people’s input?

This is a coach-able behavior that can make leaders even more effective in the workplace.

Jorge Estrada is an organizational development consultant and leadership coach with Leadership Coaching International, Inc. He can be reached at  360-481-0133 or jorge@leaders-coaching.com.

The perception that a leader has of himself or herself, versus the perception that followers have, ends up creating a gap. The larger the gap, the less effective a leader is.

 



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