The success or failure of any organisation often hinges on one key factor: The ability of its leaders to listen, both externally and internally.
Unfortunately, listening is a skill that is becoming rare in our modern landscape. Every minute, 2.46 million social posts are shared, 277,000 Tweets are written, and 3,472 images are pinned, and yet most of us still don’t feel like we are being heard.
We’ve all experienced the detrimental effects of the lack of active listening within the workplace at some point. Anyone who has spent any significant amount of time in the workforce has attended a meeting in which one executive does the talking while other participants hold back their thoughts, worried about the impact of changes and decisions while feeling utterly powerless to express themselves or do anything about their circumstances. Maybe, if you are lucky, the result is only a lack of consensus. However, more importantly, when staff members don’t feel that they’ve been heard, the result is a general lack of commitment, engagement, and low productivity.
There is a difference between simply hearing and listening actively. At its root, listening is the act of mindfully hearing and attempting to comprehend the meaning of words spoken by another person. But listening is also one of the most critical ingredients for building strong leadership, healthy relationships, and thriving organisations.
According to esteemed psychologist Carl Rogers, active listening is a particular communication skill that involves giving free and undivided attention to the speaker. When we actively and mindfully listen, we truly comprehend what others are telling us.
Active listening is one of the most useful agents for organisational change and group development. Developing a listening culture within an organisation leads to more inclusive and transparent communication, more authentic feedback, and a clearer path to action. Team members become more engaged in the organisation, and productivity and morale improve.
Leaders who practice ‘active listening’ across the organisation will tap into a wealth of actionable insight that would otherwise be difficult to access.
Enabling and encouraging people to communicate inclusively and transparently helps to cultivate a ‘listening culture’, which in turn provides the organisation with authentic feedback to drive or support meaningful change.
Team members become more engaged in decisions and outcomes, and thus productivity and morale improve. Leaders who listen do so because they know that positively leveraging authentic feedback will result in the ultimate competitive advantage for their organisation: resilience.
(Extract from The Path To Creating A High-Performing Resilient Organization) by Kate Benediktsson, Julia Winn, Rebecca West, Michael Papay.