The other night I was at an event and met a couple of people. As we talked about our businesses, I mentioned that I work with small business owners on everything from leadership to business development. One of the gentlemen asked me what I thought the single most important trait of a leader is. I immediately responded - listening.

While he was a little surprised, he agreed immediately.

We all know (or should know by now) that listening is the most important sales skill. What you may not realize is how important listening is to leadership. Really good leaders - the kind you remember and want to be around - are those people who listen.

When a superior listens to their people, they empower their people to do better, to reach the top. Why? Because it shows respect and the belief that they are worthy.

If you've ever had a manager who didn't listen you know what I mean. You knew that person didn't value your opinion, your knowledge, or your ability. Conversely, if you ever had a manager who asked and listened, you remember how good it felt.

When people feel empowered and valued, they automatically want to excel. So everybody wins.

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