CEOs are critical to the success of any business organization. They take the major decisions, chart out the major plans, put their weight behind investments and focus on strategy executions. In short, successful CEOs are the ones that are leading businesses into new territories markets and generating revenues.
One area that has often been highlighted as a cause of concern in business management is the lack of the top-most hierarchy to ‘listen’. Part of the problem lies in the fact that when you reach a top position, you get more inclined to ‘say’ and ‘give directions’. You start believing that since you have reached that position, it is the others that should listen to what you say.
Leading business experts and management gurus point out that this is a flawed approach that compromises the functioning of efficient organizations. They say that the best CEOs in history had one common trait- they were all great listeners. In this article, we are going to list down this major problem and discuss how to improve on listening skills.
Why is Listening Important for CEOs?
A CEO is in charge of taking decisions that can make or break a business organization. according to experts, the following are some reasons why CEOs need to work on their listening skills-
- Gaining Valuable Insights-
Every aspect of the business can help shed light on areas of improvement. A CEO by developing their listening skills can gain valuable insights about the working and functioning of a business from their employees, vendors, and customers. It can help bring to light problem areas, which if addressed, can lead to better sales and revenues for the business.
- Building and Encouraging Team Confidence-
Every business organization has team members and professionals that are brilliant in their areas of expertise. When as a CEO, you listen, you are giving them an encouraging platform. This will help them stay motivated and feel part of something bigger. When you do this, you will see a marked difference in the productivity of your team at multiple levels.
- Streamline Work Operations and Efficiency-
Having conversations is always better than sending memos. Two-way free-flowing conversations work processed and expedite processes. You will see lesser bottlenecks and create an organization and team that starts thinking on its feet. Long-drawn negotiations drain efficiency and create unnecessary confusion. Listening and being part of conversations help.
Top Features and Traits of Effective Listening
In the above section, we have listed down three major reasons why CEOs need to hone their listening skills. In this section, we are going to discuss some important traits or features that can help improve listening-
- Firstly, it is essential that whenever as a CEO, you are listening to someone speak, please maintain eye contact with the individual. This will demonstrate that you are giving them your complete focus and attention. Eye contact is very important.
- Secondly, you need to demonstrate that what the other person is speaking is arousing your interest and curiosity. When they finish or take a pause, make sure that you ask questions for some points which you deem were important. This reflects interest.
- Thirdly, clarify whether you are understanding what the other person is saying. You do not necessarily need to agree or disagree with what the person is saying. What you need to do is have a crystal-clear idea of what is being communicated to you.
- Fourthly, follow common etiquettes of conversation when interrupting someone. When people present ideas, there is a flow that is followed. If you butt in repeatedly, you will compromise their flow. This is why, if you want to interrupt, take permissions.
- Fifthly, set up a routine or rules regarding conversations. For example, when will you be asking questions or seeking clarifications? Or, how many people can there be in a circle when you are having one of those interesting conversations.
The Bottom Line
A CEO needs to be on the top of their game at every point in time. If they drop the ball, the organization will suffer. Working on your listening skills will help you grow your business, create better teams and improve on your management styles and techniques. If you have any questions that we can answer on this topic, please let us know in the comments below.