Spending some time in a meeting and observing people, listening to what is said and keeping silent can be illuminating. In a recent meeting, I listened did this for a short time and learned some valuable information. I worked out who respected me, who liked me and who valued me and, even though it surprised me, the reverse.
Silence is a valuable tool
One key leadership skill, commonly overlooked, is that of ‘Navigation’. It is a rare skill but one vital to the success of any team.
The ‘Pilot’ is crucial to any ship as it enters/leaves port -the area of most danger, the area where wisdom and knowledge are needed, so that the dangers can be safely passed without mishap.
Who are the people that you know that are able to navigate the dangerous waters? Who are the people that can help you see a way through the situations/difficulties that you face? These types of leaders are indispensable, yet rare, they rarely can navigate for themselves, but for others they are worth their weight in gold. Look out for them and keep them close.
Listening to your team is such an important part of leadership. It helps the team engage and interact, usually producing greater cohesion and results too. However, this is not always evident in teams and is often a source of frustration and disengagement within groups of people working together.
I have had the priviledge of being in 2 meetings, in recent months, where the leader has facilitated greater listening amongst the gathered group – he has said very little but provided an environment whereby the contributors can both input and listen. On each occasion there has been positive consequences for the assembled group as they have learned to understand and develop in ways that would have previously been impossible.
It was also interesting to read an article in “The Metro” (not the most reliable of freebie papers but has to be read once in a while) that talked about flight 1549 and its miraculous escape as it landed on the Hudson River. The article talked a little about the captain and his decision making process. Apparently the captain did not make the decision to land until he had consulted with the other crew members on the flight deck. It was only after this consultation that the decision to attempt a landing on the river was made – which ultimately saved the lives of all those on the flight. The pilot listened to the team.
In youth work circles we talk often about “listening skills” and when in mentoring relationships show excellence in this skill. However, as we lead our other staff/volunteers, we sometimes manage to forget the need to listen and can make decisions that create dysfunction. It is at these times when we can be our own worst enemy. Looking back on my own history, there are times when I have listened well and those occasions where I have battled on regardless. Guess which times where the most fruitful? Listening is such an important part of our leadership – let’s embrace it.