Leaders Who Hear

Last week I participated in an all day offsite meeting. The goal was to pour over every detail of our 2014 Leadercast Live event that takes place on May 9th. The room was filled with incredibly talented people from inside and outside of our company. There was a lot of conversation… creative ideas were flying around, suggestions to make things better, tough challenges on key issues, and affirmation of brilliant insights. It was the best meeting of the kind that I’ve ever been involved in.

An eight-hour meeting has the potential to be the most unproductive day imaginable. We’ve all been there… laboring all day in the meeting that accomplishes nothing beyond blocking actual work from happening. So what made our meeting last week different?

I think one of our participants nailed it on the head when we did a recap at the end of the day:

Thanks for making me feel heard.”

It was a simple statement, but the idea has profound implications on our leadership, not just our meetings.

There is power in allowing people to be heard. Beyond the value that we feel when our voice is heard, we develop a sense of ownership, and a greater involvement in the process.

This principle is not reserved for meetings, but is a leadership essential. Imagine a sales team that is more engaged because their ideas are heard. Imagine a client that feels increased value because their point of view was clearly heard. Imagine a collaborator who goes above the call of duty because it is clear that their contribution is sincerely heard and appreciated.

Allowing someone to be heard is more than listening. It’s attributing value to their thoughts. Showing genuine interest through body language, follow-up, and actionable engagement. Allowing others to be heard does not mean implementing every idea that comes your way, but it does mean considering the possibility, and giving validity to their point of view.

Let’s continue becoming leaders worth following by honoring the contributions of our peers, teammates, clients, and colleagues. Let’s be leaders who hear.

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