[vimeo id="140969104"] You know, one of the most important skills a leader can have is listening. It’s not just a social skill or part of looking after those around you. Listening is a visionary skill. Leaders who take the time to listen to peers, experts, employees, customers, and other leaders are investing into the future. So here are a few things every leader should be listening for.
First, listen for your organization’s strengths. A strength is an internal quality that gives you an organic advantage. These are things you routinely receive compliments on from people inside and outside your organization. For example, at Southeastern we often receive comments about how encouraging people are on campus. That empowering culture is a strength that gives us an organic advantage.
Secondly, listen for your weaknesses. Now a weakness isn’t just an area you can improve. A weakness is an intrinsic problem that continually damages your levels of success. You can usually pick out your major weaknesses by examining feedback from people inside your organization. Are they regularly criticizing something? What do they like least about the organization?
Third, listen for opportunities to flourish. An opportunity is an area your organization can grow into using its strengths. Now opportunities are usually external to your organization. This means you need to listen to the environment surrounding your group. Another example at Southeastern is our nursing program. For the past couple of years nursing has been the fastest growing profession. We saw that as an opportunity to have a greater impact on our community and better equip our students.
Fourth, listen for potential threats. A threat is a change or an event that could damage your effectiveness in the near future. Like opportunities, they usually come from outside of your organization. Being able to anticipate and prepare for threats is crucial to creating long-term sustainable growth.
Lastly, convert your threats and weaknesses into opportunities and strengths. If your organization has a very critical or discouraging culture, look for ways to cultivate change within it. Put people together as teams and have a bulletin board where you post each team’s achievements. Celebrate your organization’s victories corporately. You’ll find that when you focus on turning weaknesses into strengths, most of your threats disappear or turn into opportunities.
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