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Today, a leader must be an excellent communicator. They must be able to delegate effortlessly, motivate the team, and must be good at both verbal and written communications. But communication is a two-way street. Leaders also need to be active, patient and responsive listeners. While being outspoken and communicating clearly are two of the many attributes necessary for one to become a leader, it is listening that makes one a better leader.
How listening can make anyone a better leader
In the workplace, a leader is expected to address problems and initiate improvements. Certain problems will be obvious and a leader must be able to identify them. But, many problems are not so obvious. The only way a leader can get to know those issues is if they listen to the team or any particular member of the team. People should be able to come up to a leader with their problems and a leader must not spurn them.
Many leaders fail to actually hear what others have to say. They shrug at what is being shared or reported to them. They pretend to listen and forget what has been said soon after. They don’t even offer an audience and even if they listen. They can discard the issues at their whims and fancies. Such approaches are unbecoming of a leader.
The first step in being a better leader is to take the time to listen to others, and reflect back what is being said to clarify matters. A leader who listens is respected by their team members. Listening to anyone would make that person feel that they are important, what they say or have to say is being heard and that their thoughts, situations or their role in the team are valuable.
Steps to be a better listener include:
- When listening to another person, imagine that they are the only other person in the room and be fully engaged in what they are saying.
- Be open minded and put yourself in their shoes. You might not agree with what the person is saying, but give them a chance to fully articulate their thoughts. People will appreciate that you are making an effort to understand and hear what they are saying.
- Repeat back the key points you are hearing and ask for clarification of anything you did not understand or may have missed.
- Establish what follow up there will be, if any, so the person is clear on what will happen after the conversation is finished.
- Remember, conversations are just the beginning step to implementing great ideas!
Listening is a skill that comes with time and practice. Leaders need to talk but they don’t need to talk to hear their own voice. A leader can always learn from others, from advice or suggestions from the team members and the act of listening itself can open up a treasure trove of informational and helpful exchanges. Remember, it only takes one person to suggest an idea for significant change to affect the organization.
As a leader, it’s up to you to become a better listener so you can improve your skills and earn the respect of your subordinates.
Casey Accounting & Finance Resources is dedicated to locating top talent for your accounting and finance positions. Contact a leading recruiter for finance careers today to get started!
In the ‘information age,’ communication is the key to a successful office career. While lucid communication has always been a desirable attribute in a professional, especially for those in delegating and leadership or management roles, it has become much more quintessential today. Why? Companies are seeking professionals who are adept and comfortable in all forms of communication, including making small talk that leads to better working relationships.
How to improve the conversation by shifting the focus to small talk
When developing communication skills, it’s important to first focus on mutual interests demonstrated in initial small talk. Take the attention off “me” and put it on “we,” so that you can discuss a topic that you and your colleagues enjoy. It’s effective when relating to co-workers, talking with subordinates or managers, and building rapport with clients.
To be viewed as a true office professional, it’s important to establish or showcase your prowess in communication. That can be achieved by speaking decisively, confidently and in a manner that is understandable, convincing and engaging. Since communication is a two-way process and both or all parties must feel engaged, it is quite possible that what you talk about might not entice the other person enough. That is where small talk becomes your strength. Whether it is your interview or your first interactions with your fellow colleagues, small talk can give you the impetus you need.
What does small talk have to do with things?
In many ways, small talk is considered a normal part of any job. Unfortunately, there are some people who don’t like such conversations. When you speak about topics that matter to you and the other person, you can easily guide the conversation. At a more basic level, you get to establish a connection that will work in your favor. Small talk is also necessary if you wish to switch the topic of a conversation or you simply wish to steer the whole correspondence in a certain manner. Use open-ended questions to get the conversation going and invite people to tell stories instead of one word responses. Here are some conversation starters at the office:
- What do you enjoy most about your weekend?
- What is the most interesting thing that happened at work today?
- If you could be anywhere in the world, where would you like to be?
- What is the best way to accomplish our target for the week?
As Dale Carnegie stated, “Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely.”
Using small talk during an interview to improve your career
Communicating better and more lucidly will become easy when you master the strength of small talk, especially on topics of mutual interest. For example, while being interviewed for a job, a candidate can use small talk to build a common ground with interviewers and appear to have the right personality for the job. This will present a candidate as having a confident, interesting and asserting personality. Use these tips during an interview:
- Don’t ramble on. Keep small talk interesting and brief
- Realize the interviewer is asking questions initially to see how easily you can engage in conversation
- Answer the questions you are asked
- Look at the interviewer and look interested in the conversation
- Listen more than you talk
These are attributes that any company in any industry would want to have in its employees.
Casey Accounting & Finance Resources, a winner of Inavero’s Best of Staffing® Client Award for the second consecutive year, focuses directly on your area of expertise. Contact us today to work with a leader in finance recruitment.