This is where our staff and co-founders rant, rave, and reflect to give you a better insight into our agency.
A Lesson in LeadershipPosted on: May 2nd, 2013
The common depiction of leadership situates a person of power at the summit of a hierarchy named with a task greater than those below. But what makes a good leader? Is it the title alone? It seems that the name itself often instills fear into the hearts of lesser employees, breaking the quality relationship between employee and employer. However, the secret to good leadership is much simpler: listening. The age of technology seemingly has created numerous hoops to jump through when it comes to being a good listener. It can be quite a feat, especially between excessive phone calls, emails, workplace interruptions, and nonstop deadlines. Marketing is no exception to this, especially when a project becomes monotonous. According to the Associated Press, the average attention span for an American in 2012 was 8 seconds, down from 12 seconds in 2000, and comparable to the 9 second attention span of a goldfish. It’s no wonder we becomes distracted by our Facebook page when we attempt to be productive. Despite this, listening skills are highly desired qualities not just in leaders of big companies, but in an employee as well. More than 35 business studies indicate that listening is a top skill needed for success in business.
Often a leader is chosen, namely in the workplace, rather than the accurate depiction of a leader who emerges from a situation and takes control. We recognize leadership in our society as a figurehead, such as a President, CEO, or member of Congress. Leadership has turned into a title, rather than a quality one may possess. Commonly, high position-holders in companies will attend leadership summits—because they breed management skills and not exclusivity, right? It’s a common belief that a leader will already possess the skills necessary to complete the task at hand before being hired, but what few realize is the necessity of outside feedback. Management often fails due to a lack of communication and the inability, or unwillingness of a superior to truly listen to the opinions of the inferior employees. Below are a few tips to not only be an effective listener, but to assist in everyday relationships between coworkers.
- Listen to understand, not to respond. It is not unusual to have hundreds of thoughts streaming through your mind after someone drops out one idea. Our brain processes information much more quickly than the information can enter, creating a whirlwind of thoughts and ideas. Listening without response is an integral part of understanding the information being given so that you can process it before forming an objective response. In marketing, your job revolves around understanding your customer’s desires and necessities. Without this, your client may walk away unsatisfied with the end result, which is both a waste of time and money.
- Maintain eye contact. There is nothing that says “I’m not interested in what you have to say,” more than avoiding eye contact during a conversation. Be sure to stay away from your cell phone during important conversations and look at the person speaking instead. Studies show that multitasking slows response time and understanding, and texting or surfing the web during a conversation isn’t the most convincing way to exhibit good conversation. Former President Bill Clinton was often recognized for his ability to make people feel like the most important person in the room during a conversation. Many have been quoted that it was because of his ability to maintain eye contact and seem interested in what his counterpart is saying.
- Don’t be afraid to use someone’s ideas. As a leader in a company, it is your job to fulfill a task as best as possible. If someone comes to spill ideas to you, it means they might have a worthwhile idea. Don’t hesitate to use their ideas, even if they aren’t your own. Some of the most successful businesspeople flourish because of the people that surround them. Effective leadership means growth, and listening to your employees is part of that growth.
- Pay attention to non-verbals. Some people have an incredibly expressive face, and other give cues to their thoughts with body language. Most people, especially your employees, are afraid to speak up when they disagree. Pay attention to the non-verbal communications because it may say more than their words.