One of the biggest complaints I hear from managers as I work with companies in all different industries, across different countries and cultures is - “my boss is not listening to me”
Whether that is fair or not is irrelevant - it is the perception.
Many years ago I had a boss, who was a really good guy to work with, but he had a really frustrating habit when we had 1:1 meetings. I always had the feeling that he was not listening fully and was anxious for the meeting to finish so that he could move on to the next appointment!
Eventually I did say it to him because I was totally frustrated by it. He was totally unaware of his behaviour, and indeed was quite upset that he should give the impression of either not being fully there or being impatient to finish the meeting.
How it made me feel was that I was not being listened to! Very undermining and created a gap between us that gave rise to a sense of not having complete trust in the relationship.
My belief is that he was suffering from the “wall to wall meeting” syndrome that many executive fall into. In some companies I can see that almost as a badge of honour - “look how important I am”.
Some executives are good at “appearing” to listen! What I mean by that is that their body language says “I am listening”, but the reality is they are only listening to their own internal dialogue, and thinking of what to say next!
Not you? Of course not!!!!!
What is required is what I term as “mindful listening”. It is total listening not only to what is being said, but what is not being said, tuning in to the emotions expressed - both the positive and the negative ones. It is listening with all your senses and not focusing on yourself or how you are going to respond.
This is easily said but tough to do!
You simply cannot do this if you are going from one meeting to another.
You need to create space in your schedule for thinking - yes, I mean to actually book time for reflection and thinking. This allows you the time to reflect upon your meeting with your key people so that your preparation is done fully in advance and you are not using the time at the meeting to prepare in your head.
Doing that allows you to fully concentrate on them. That is what they expect of you as a leader.
Not doing this diminishes your own leadership, and being the “most in demand” executive impresses no one!! You are just a busy fool, and simultaneously falling very short as a leader.
This week, block out time to prepare for meetings with your direct reports, switch off all the technology and listen mindfully!
You will be amazed at what you hear!!