When people say the word “Leadership” there are lots of things that come to mind. Usually the comments center on someone who is strong, in control, good communicator, decision maker, and knowledgeable. While these are unquestionably important, there is one skill that truly differentiates the best leaders from average leaders…their ability to LISTEN.
Listening in many ways is a lost art today. Everyone has lots to say and most aren’t afraid of telling us what they think. And add into the mix the Tsunami of Social Media adoption by leaders today and you have exponentially increased the volume of content leaders have to say. So with all this talking, who has time to listen? Great leaders…that’s who.
I saw an article that was simple, yet quite impactful on 5 benefits to why the best leaders listen. The article was in Enterprise NK and I wanted to share with you what they have found to be 5 areas any leader can incorporate that will help them be a better listener. But they did it in a way that is all about how it can “benefit” the new or existing leader today. The article, “Leadership – 5 Benefits of Listening,” focuses on why this is something every leader needs more of today.
Here are their 5 Benefits as to why this can help you as a leader…
- You Discover Things – When leaders are simply walking around their organizations and interacting with employees in all areas of the company, if they stop talking long enough they will probably discover things they are doing as a company they didn’t even realize.
- You Take Better Decisions – When I first saw this I thought it was a type and the word should be “make” instead. But the way they explain it makes total sense. When you listen, you get a wider range of options presented and discussed and as such you can “take” the best decisions from the group…makes total sense now.
- You Gain Respect – This plays completely on the value employees place on being able to have someone of importance actually listen to what they are saying. They feel more appreciated and recognized just by the simple fact you listened instead of spewed some information.
- You Find Out More – This one is pretty obvious and similar to #1 other than it’s an opportunity to get more depth of what is going on in a certain area to help you make better decisions in the future with better and deeper information.
- You Uncover Opportunities – This is probably the culmination of the all of the above…you see things you may never have seen before and with the bright and creative mind you have as a leader, you can “translate” them into potential opportunities you may never have thought of before now.
There you have it…how many of these are you, as a leader, doing today? How many can you personally improve in? How many can your team improve in to make a stronger leadership team in your company? Maybe these could be a discussion in your next leadership team meeting…providing that the team is willing to “listen” to these ideas about listening!
I shared last week 15 traits Leaders don’t want to exhibit or possess so I thought it only fair to list some of the Leadership traits top leaders should possess.
McKinsey came up with a list of 20 types of behavior leaders exhibit and use in their running of organizations in a report, Decoding leadership: What really matters. In this article, they focused on the Top 4 Behaviors that explained 89% of the difference between strong and weak organizations with regard to leadership effectiveness.
Here is a list of all 20 Behaviors and the Top 4 are in capitals and bold so you can see which ones stood out from the list of 20…
- BE SUPPORTIVE
- Champion desired change
- Clarify objectives, rewards, and consequences
- Communicate prolifically and enthusiastically
- Develop others
- Develop and share a collective mission
- Differentiate among followers
- Facilitate group collaboration
- Foster mutual respect
- Give praise
- Keep group organized and on task
- Make quality decisions
- Motivate and bring out best in others
- Offer a critical perspective
- OPERATE WITH STRONG RESULST ORIENTATION
- Recover positively from failures
- Remain composed and confident in uncertainty
- Role model organization values
- SEEK DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES
- SOLVE PROBLEMS EFFECTIVELY
Regardless of whether these were the top 4, this is a great list to think about with regard to all of our focus on leadership, developing teams, developing future leaders, and making our organizations the best they can be.
Share the list with your team and see what they think. Grade your leaders, or better yet, have them grade themselves on how well they do in all these areas, not just the top 4 behaviors identified. This would make a great discussion topic as well. I will post it into our LinkedIn Group under CEOtoCEO Discussions so if you have some thoughts or ideas or other behaviors you feel should be on the list, feel free to comment and offer your input.
It’s that time of year where we all talk about books that we read this past year and which ones stood out in our minds. These lists will start pouring in over the next couple of months. I will share some of these with you along the way. But to give you an early start, here are the top Business Books for 2014 as put together by Strategy+Business. Let us know if you have read any of these and what you thought…good or bad…it will help the rest of us that haven’t read them get a better idea if it is worth our time our not. Here’s the list…by topical category…
So if you were looking for things to fill your time during the holiday season, this should solve that problem. Enjoy…and let me know what you think of these books or if you have some of your own you would like to add to the list. If you have read a book and want to give our readers a brief summary, please e-mail me (Blaine Millet) and I would be happy to put your review up as a blog post.
Back in September at our CEOtoCEO breakfast we had the great privilege of having John Schneider speak to our group about the culture of the Seattle Seahawks. We all know how that story ended…with a SuperBowl victory!! But being a business leader you know there are lots of moving parts behind this to make it truly come together the way it did. A big one is CULTURE…
Last month we had the opportunity to have Steve Gandara from Excellent Cultures and Brad Root from GM Nameplate talk to us about “HOW” you can build this type of culture in your company or organization. Well, they took it a step further and married the Seahawks culture with their discussion about how to create this type of culture in a tremendous Four Part Series. We wanted to share these with you so you can get even more depth about how to create an excellent culture in your own organization.
In PART ONE of The Seahawks Superbowl Winning Culture, they talked about 4 key elements that help them differentiate themselves from their competition. Here is their list…
- The level of intensity with which they play
- The voracious competitive spirit that seems to drive them
- The youthful talent of the players
- And most of all how much fun they have playing the game
In PART TWO they talked about how confidence played such a key role in their achievement. Two key ingredients that helped make up this winning culture were…
- Confidence vs. Arrogance
These two components were far bigger drivers of their successful culture than just being a “great place to work.” There is a great deal to culture and it starts with the leadership of the organization. Pete Carroll was a master at creating this culture and allowing the players to do what they do best.
In PART THREE of the series, they focused on the internal relationships that go on between the leadership of the team and organization and the players. Yes, there is a definite relationship that has to be established and creating one that allows everyone to do what they do best is critical if you are to achieve the ultimate prize of being Superbowl champions. Two areas they discussed were…
- Positive Competition
- Superior Teams are built on high quality relationships
All of our organizations are “teams” and as such these are very applicable to everyone.
In the FOURTH (and final) PART of their series, they focused the TEAM aspects of the culture. How do they build a winning “team” that works so well together and delivers the results they wanted. One of the key aspects to accomplishing this is “Proper Goal Orientation.” They talk about this and how the Seahawks used it masterfully in their efforts to be the most successful team in the NFL this year.
So we highly recommend you read all four parts and see how you might compare to a team that was obviously successful in the most watched Superbowl in history. This was not only an exciting day for all of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, but it is a series of events we can all learn from as we lead our companies. Special thanks to Steve Gandara and Excellent Cultures for putting these blog posts together and allowing us to share them with you. And as usual…please share your comments and thoughts below.
We had the opportunity back in the fall to have John Schneider, General Manager of the (SuperBowl bound) Seattle Seahawks speak to us at one of our CEOtoCEO breakfast meetings. What a treat…both from John being very entertaining with his dry sense of humor but the insights he shared with us about the Seahawks organization. We were honored to have him speak and now that the Seahawks are in the Superbowl (GO HAWKS!!) his comments provide some real background on why.
We want to share some different pieces of his speech with you over the next couple of weeks to give you some more insight into not only John, but about Pete Carroll and how they worked together to create what has surely been a historical season.
To start, we wanted to share an interesting segment from his speech where he talked about Pete Carroll’s background as well as his and how they ended up at the Seahawks and creating this amazing partnership that has had such incredible success. I will let you know this is about 7 minutes long so I would encourage you to watch when you have the time so you can hear all of it at once.
As you can see, they both failed…in many people’s eyes. But if you know anything about failure, it is simply the next step to success or as the famous Thomas Edison put it, it simply tells you what doesn’t work so you don’t have to try that again and can move onto finding what does work. They both figured this out, were motivated beyond their “failures” and came together to create an incredible machine called the “Legion of Boom” and the best team in the NFC division of the NFL…not bad for a couple of guys that failed a few times!