Listen! It Makes All the Difference

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listen-it-makes-all-the-differenceOne of my favorite things to do as an HR Manager at Staff One HR is deliver training to my clients, their management staff, and their employees on a variety of HR and management topics.  Recently, my colleague Marisa Eckberg created and delivered a four-part webinar series* on leadership, and I’ve had the pleasure of presenting the material she created during in-person training sessions with several of my own clients.

During the course of delivering these training sessions on leadership, I’ve asked myself what it is that makes a leader truly great.  There are several important factors, including trust, respect, integrity, communication skills, and the ability to problem-solve, but in my opinion, the most important attribute of a truly great leader is his or her ability to listen.

Of course, we’ve all likely heard about active listening, using body language to show that we are listening, and about how we should paraphrase what someone has said during conversations to convey that we have listened and understand.  The essence of this is how a leader pays attention to what employees have to say, and continuously solicits feedback from their team(s).

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Have you ever had a boss who just barked orders at you and your colleagues, wasn’t open to receiving feedback, and immediately shut down any discussion if it seemed to be in opposition to his or her own ideas?  Not fun, is it?  Hopefully you’ve been blessed with great leaders and haven’t experienced this firsthand.

A great leader excitedly and consistently pursues honest feedback, even when it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.  Instead of taking it as a personal attack or insubordination, a great leader will truly listen, consider constructive criticism, and address legitimate questions and concerns in a timely manner.

After all, great leaders know that their teams, the people in the weeds making things happen every day, likely have valuable insight into what will and won’t work, ways to improve things and create efficiencies, and how to implement new processes and procedures.  When you have team members who have been part of the company for an extended period of time, those individuals also have historical knowledge and context that can be very valuable.

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Showing your team that you value them, their ideas, opinions, and insights through really listening develops and strengthens their trust and respect for you.  And when you have a team that trusts and respects you, and feels valued, they will be much more motivated to push harder and further to achieve goals with you.

Staff One’s HR Managers can provide expert training on leadership, communication, and other skills to grow your team members and enhance your company culture and employee engagement.

*Drop us a line if you’re interested in watching our recorded e-learning event series on leadership, or contact the author directly at

Image:  Nicolas Nadjar