6 Habits of Leaders Who Keep Their Mouths Shut

Key Takeaways:

  • Brilliant ideas can be found in the most unlikely places, but you won’t hear those ideas unless you’re listening.

  • When you allow someone to own their job, the more creative, engaged and excited about their work they will be.

  • Whether you’re a C-Suite executive or are trying to move up the ladder, these 6 habits of good listeners are a win-win for both your personal and work life.

Richard Branson once said, “We have two ears and one mouth, using them in proportion is not a bad idea.” — I think we can all benefit from reading that sentence again.

Whether you’re a C-Suite executive or are trying to move up the ladder, brilliant ideas can be found in the most unlikely places —and you won’t hear those ideas unless you’re listening. Branson suggests this can mean following online comments as closely as board meeting notes, or asking frontline team members for their opinions as often as the CEOs.

Why this is such a foreign concept is amazing to me! The more you allow someone to own their job, the more you allow peak performance to kick in. Everyone wants to feel they are contributing everyday. So when someone feels listened to, they will be more creative, engaged and excited about their work.

I would suggest that the majority of us are actually trying to listen … but that we’re not acknowledging the difference between hearing what someone is saying and actually listening to them. We’re not actively working to make our listening skills better and more effective. Personally, when someone is talking to me, I will sometimes be more focused on getting ready to answer then just listening and taking a pause before my brain kicks in.

Here are 6 habits of good listeners and some thoughts on how we can implement this in our worklife. (Pretty sure this will work great in your personal life, too!)

#1. Good Listeners are Empathetic

One of the most important traits of a good listener is to empathize with the person with whom you’re speaking. Having compassion will not go unnoticed. As a senior executive or business owner, can you truly relate with your team members? Practicing empathetic listening can bridge that gap.

#2. Good Listeners Keep an Open Mind

Good listeners know that not every conversation is going to resolve an issue, bring about a new solution or invent the next unicorn … but that doesn’t mean you don’t actively participate and listen when speaking to people.

Leaders who keep an open mind allow team members to share their thoughts in a welcoming atmosphere —devoid of judgment or agenda.

#3. Good Listeners Aren’t Too Busy to Listen

Great ideas and insights don’t just come from the people above you —anyone can add value if you’re willing to listen. Make sure you’re taking the time to expand your sphere and learn from those with different perspectives and insights. In business, this could be your customers, those that didn’t choose to work with you, your team members, etc.

#4. Good Listeners Ask the Right Questions

When you’re really listening, asking great follow-up questions can help draw out more information. Practice listening intently to what the person is telling you, pause to think about what was said, and then work to pose significant questions that will help the person you’re speaking with expand their thought.

#5. Good Listeners Repeat the Answers

Repeating the answer goes hand-in-hand with asking the right questions. When you repeat or paraphrase the answer, you’re confirming with the other person that you have —in fact— heard what they’re saying.

#6. Good Listeners Empower and Recognize Others

Don’t forget to thank the person you’ve been speaking with for their contributions. If you glean something from the conversation, a quick email or handwritten note to say thanks can make a huge impact. Doing so will empower and inspire your team members to contribute their energy and ideas.

As the famous Nike commercial advised, “Just do it!” ... in business, we can apply “Just Listen!” and great things will happen.