Leaders ask great questions, but are also careful listeners.
This is a skill we need to teach our employees. Our Leadership Essentials Academy has Dave's Charm School (and other team members) training to develop questioning and listening skills. However not all of you are members.
Recently I was interviewing a job candidate for a Client and he had a background in the U.S. Coast Guard. He mentioned they had an acronym in an Effective Communications course to remind him how to be a great listener - L.E.A.P.S.
He said L.E.A.P.S. was explained online and I asked him to send me the link. It is an interesting document that is very consistent with what we teach. Here is what the L.E.A.P.S. acronym stands for:
Listen to the message received carefully and attentively. Keep an open mind to what is being said and don't be quick to offer advice or solutions.
Emphasize by acknowledging the emotions that are being expressed. It is very important to receive the message without judgment about the sender or the message sent.
Ask questions in order to get more information and to clarify information you do not understand.
Paraphrase what the person has said to ensure you understand the information correctly.
Summarize by restating the situation with all the facts to clarify the role, problem or behavior.
Here is the link to the entire U.S. Coast Guard summary document about effective communications.
IMPORTANT ENCOURAGEMENT: Do not feel bad if you were not born with these skills or taught them as you were growing up.
Great questioning and active listening skills are learned, developed over time, and applied with discipline. Take the time to learn these two skills and you will be a better leader.
I encourage you to have your team read the U.S. Coast Guard document on Effective Communications and have an open discussion about how to improve in these areas.
Learning Insights: Ask each person to share what they learned from reading the Coast Guard's recommendations.
Strengths: Ask each person to explain their strengths in the areas of asking questions and active listening. Ask the others to confirm their assessment and/or identify other strengths of the person in these areas. Ask the person how they could question and listen even better. Then ask the others if they have any suggestions for the individual to improve.
Weaknesses: Ask each person to explain their weaknesses in the areas of asking questions and active listening. Ask the others to confirm their assessment and/or identify other weaknesses of the person in these areas. Encourage everyone to speak respectfully. Ask the person to identify simple steps they could take to question and listen better. Then ask the others if they have any suggestions for the individual to improve.
Typical Scenarios: Prepare at least five typical scenarios your team faces on a regular basis where better questioning and active listening skills will help them achieve more in less time, and enjoy their work more. HAVE FUN posing the typical scenarios to the group and having them share their ideas on great questions to ask and key information to listen for in the answers.
As an alternative, you can pair people up to go through each typical scenario. After they complete one typical scenario then each pair of people shares the results with the rest of the group.