Thursday, April 24, 2008

Learn to LISTEN!

i always thought i was a good listener
i always thought i was attentive
i always put other people's needs ahead of my own
i always reiterated what i heard to ensure i had listened the best way possible
i am a small part of the dynamics of communication among MANY people; hence why i is small and COMMUNITY is so big.

What i learned last week was to take my ego and thought processes out of the equation. If i had an idea that was supposed to work, and stuck to it too long; inevitably the high minded ideals of helping people would be overshadowed by my stubbornness and rigidity as 'a leader'.

What matters at all times is the outcome. Leaders are not called as such because they have good intentions... they are called as such because they have the uncanny ability to mobilize people towards a collective purpose; a common vision.

The days of the totalitarian dictating what that purpose is are fading, because young people are coming into the work force with a purpose and a vision of their own, and this is great. Sure, some young workers need a healthy dose of guidance and a reality check based on the amount of work their aspirations of success will take...

but just as they need coaching, leaders of all ages need to be able to find the pulse of the public and direct it towards a commonly accepted purpose. That is, they need to constantly find dynamic ways of matching the purpose of their people to the purpose of the company; and adjusting either if a better purpose can be discovered.

So how can the old school rough around the edges militaristic boss and the new-wave millennial college grad find common ground?

Simple. We all have 2 ears and 1 mouth. When we use them in the opposite proportion, we set off a neuro-physiological fight or flight response from the amygdala region of the brain.

The employee wants more vacation time. Their boss won't hear of it. The employer gets their back against the wall, while the employee feels under-valued and quits. How can this have been avoided? Well if the employee is willing to work overtime or weekends in lieu of their excess holiday days; this shows the employer they are willing to work towards solutions instead of barging into their office and saying "I have a problem and so ipso facto- you have a problem".

Conversely in the example above, the employer can refrain from making value judgements based on the vacation request. Asking for more time off may not mean that the employee does not have a relationship with 'the bottom line'... it just may mean that they have commitments outside of work over and above what a 'normal year 'should dictate (like getting married or volunteering overseas). This new generation work force is full of professionals who are just as adamant about their personal or philanthropic lives as they are about their professional ones.

Is one side right? As an employer, i'd love to say that the new workforce demographic has unrealistic expectations and that they'll change... but i also know that i was that age once too, and the only way i can hope to improve as 'a leader' is to

a) LISTEN, and
b) implement better strategies based on what i hear and not based on how i feel about what i hear

so even as someone who aspires to be a great leader- i am constantly learning to listen and thus communicate better. What a COMMUNITY we would all have if you and i all could do this on a consistent basis...

No comments: