Look to cinema, particularly action or war movies, and you’ll see a good leader in every dashing leading man or lady. What is it about these characters that make their team mates, and the audience, trust their judgment and council? Is it the good looks and charismatic delivery of lines? The quick thinking and unflinching assurance that they know exactly what to do to get their teams out of whatever jam they find themselves in? Certainly good leadership, even in reality, is based on elements of all the aforementioned things (with the exception of Hollywood good looks). But there is another component to effective leadership that is often overlooked: the capability to listen to your team.
Listening skills are an important element to gaining the respect of your team members and earning the respect of your team is the best way to effectively lead. While independence, ambition, drive, and intelligence are all admirable things that every leader should possess, the capability to listen will not only earn you leadership, but it will also prevent your team from backing out and distrusting or resenting you halfway through a project.
As the leader, you are in the luxurious position to call the shots. However, do not forget that though you are at the helm, it is the collective efforts of your team that will help you sail your project to completion. When you are holding meetings and discussing the things that must be accomplished with your team members, be sure to earnestly listen to anything someone else may have to say. This includes voices of dissent or disagreement. When someone disagrees, do not shut them down or interrupt. Allow for them to say what they will, nodding occasionally to indicate that you are listening. If you still do not agree with what your team member has to say, tell him or her so calmly without sounding belittling or condescending. This way, all of your team members will feel more comfortable voicing their opinions and respect the fact that you are listening.
There are a number of benefits to listening to your team mates. You may discover hidden rifts amongst your team members so that you can address them, as well as discover if one of your team mates is better suited for a particular task. This way, you can get full efficiency out of your team’s efforts. You will also earn the respect of your team members because you are showing that you respect them as well. When your team respects you, they are more likely to work harder for you.