Business owners and key executives create their company culture and that culture drives their organization’s results. In my last post, I offered Four Tips for Effective Leadership Communications. It mostly focused on how YOU can communicate more effectively. In this post, I want to share three additional ideas that are geared more toward gaining inputs from OTHERS. Here they are:
Speak Less, Listen More
People jokingly say that you were given two ears and one mouth for a reason. A more fundamental expression that I like even better is
“When you’re talking, you’re not learning.”
If you are dictatorial and like to bark orders and have them followed, then you can ignore this first suggestion. Otherwise, it’s important that you listen more and work to become a better listener. Some ideas toward these ends are:
- Make fewer statements and ask more questions
- Listen beyond the words to the tone of voice, body language and facial expressions of the other person
- Don’t speak for more than 30 seconds at a time, then pause to let the other person speak
Ask Others for Their Ideas First
Once you have managed to get your talking under control, a good next step is to curb your need to state your opinions or offer solutions to problems. By intentionally withholding your ideas and asking for the thoughts of others, you will give them the opportunity to offer their own ideas.
Believe it or not, there are reasonable odds that their solutions will actually be better than yours! If you agree, then they will feel more empowered because they will be doing what they believe is right rather than merely following your orders. If you don’t agree with their ideas, you can thank them for their suggestions and at least you will have given them a chance to express themselves and “feel heard.”
Withhold Immediate Judgment
If you have your urge to blab under control and are giving your people more chances to express themselves and bring you creative ideas, then a good next step for improving communications is to withhold your immediate judgment of those ideas. How can you do this? Once you have begun to control your knee-jerk urge to judge everything instantly, then you can move the conversation along positively by asking non-judgmental questions or requests such as:
- How did you come up with this idea?
- How exactly would we get that done?
- Tell me more ….
Empowering Your People through Conversations
I know these three suggestions sound pretty basic, but, I can tell you from personal experience coaching business leaders that most fall short in one or all of these areas. The great ones do these three things naturally, without thinking about them. With a little practice, so can you!
By giving your people a chance to talk more freely, asking for their ideas first and withholding immediate judgment, you will give others the opportunity to bring you fresh ideas and feel more empowered in doing their jobs. And people who feel empowered stay longer in their jobs and tend to enjoy them more.
What do you think? What other ideas do you have to improve your leadership communications?