Lead by Listening: The Cornerstone of an Innovative Culture

general 8 August 2018

As Winston Churchill once said, ‘Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen’. We’re taking a look into how adopting a ‘Lead by Listening’ philosophy can foster growth and innovation in modern business…

Although there’s no blueprint for business leadership, the contemporary work environment thrives with a more diplomatic approach to problem solving. The Lead by Listening stance is fairly simple; if you speak less, and listen more, you’re likely to get a better insight into how your business is actually performing from ground level, and a clear indication of where core strengths and weaknesses lie. This information can be used to direct more effectively, eradicating any problems in real time. Remaining accessible and scheduling out time to interact with your employees, as well as embracing an open-door policy has been proven to pay dividends.

Not only does it make sense from a strategic perspective (who better to tell you about what’s happening within your organisation than the employees themselves?) it works wonders in the realms of Employee Relations. When individuals are listened to, there’s a sense of inclusivity of the bigger picture; employees feel empowered to behave in a way that will benefit things for the better. The results are a set of employees that feel valued and engaged, ready to autonomously give their optimal performance, which can have a profound effect on the bottom line. Not listening risks employees feeling repressed, stunted and frustrated, and has been proven to have a detrimental effect on work output.

One of the trickiest parts of Leading by Listening is being open to disagreements. Viewing differences of opinion as positive discerning viewpoints to be explored rather than challenges to authority is crucial to the Lead by Listening model. No one is ever right 100% of the time; keeping this in mind, it’s beneficial to listen to objections in a rational way, considering the supporting evidence of an opposing stance.  Asking open questions and feedback on ideas, rather than closed questions or conclusive solutions is paramount; if you’re resolute in what the answer is to an objective before considering other views, you may miss out on some vital input or even a more effective, streamlined alternative that was never considered.

The famous quote ‘Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say’ speaks volumes. Inspiring your workforce to have an authentic voice without fear of reprisal is the key to unlocking the full potential of your business; employees are assets, and talented people are the bolster to successful leaders.

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