If you are a new leader, you have ideas. You have changes that you want to make. And , inevitably, you desire to communicate the ideas and changes quickly. But while your initial desire is to speak, don’t forget to do something equally, if not more, important—listen. Because it is through listening that you become a better communicator and leader.
As you settle into a new position, make conversation with those superior and subordinate to you. Get to know everyone. Take time to listen. Don’t worry about telling your story. It will come out over time. Worry about hearing their story. Their story means everything to you. In their story lies a beautiful wealth of information. And if you purposefully listen, you will learn how to better position your future words and, ultimately, become a better leader.
Here three things new leaders need to listen for:
- Listen for history. You do not know the organization as they know the organization. Listen to understand from where your organization has come. Let them tell you stories about past successes and failures. Listen for good ideas that went bad and why they went bad. Understand that everyone is going to bring with them a different perspective on the same scenario. Gather these views so that your words can ease the apprehension caused by history. Gather these views so that your words can acknowledge and build upon the successes of history.
- Listen for heart. Everyone’s heart pulses for something. Let them tell you about their passion. Who do they want to be? What do they strive to do? Where do they yearn to go? Heart is easy to recognize. You will know it when you see it. Their face will not let them hide it. You will want them to stop talking about it, but they won’t. Take note when this occurs. Figure out how to connect your words with their heart.
- Listen to find out where you can help. You must figure out how to give more than you take. Find the gaps that you may be able to fill. In your new organization, you will not be able to fix everything for everybody, but fixing something for somebody makes a statement to those who surround you.
Words are powerful. As a new leader, you must be careful to ensure that your speech propels and does not stifle you. Before you speak, listen. Listen for history, heart, and areas of help. Craft your words in light of this information. If you are a great listener, you can become a wise speaker. If you are a wise speaker, you can become a better leader.