Communication is an essential aspect of being a successful leader, the ability to really listen to colleagues should be a tool in every business leaders toolbox.
At American Lumber, we make conscious efforts to stress the importance of the flow of communication back and forth between leadership and employees, and vice versa. This is true whether it is our customers, lumber traders, sawmill managers or yard personnel. It is our belief that when individuals listen to each other and work together organizational success is achieved.
However, in an era with plenty of “background noise” it can be difficult to hone our listening skills. If you are interested in helping yourself or others in your company become better listeners and leaders, here are a few tips that we found helpful.
Eliminate distractions. It is common in today’s modern workplace to catch yourself typing away an email while someone is talking to you. While it can be possible to scan an email or message while having a conversation with someone, usually you are not truly engaged in the conversation. More often than not, it makes colleagues or customers feel unimportant and like they wasted time having a conversation in which neither side got anything from.
The key is to limit or eliminate objects and forces that distract us from listening. Divided attention often leads to poor results.
Leadership is about listening. Typically, business leaders have strong personalities which are useful when implementing a coherent strategy that leads their companies into the future. However, it is important to be sure to avoid pushing your own views on everyone you meet. A great leader can listen to others to get a true picture of what is happening both within and beyond their business.
Practice active listening. Being an active listener involves adopting specific behaviors that improve your listening capacity such as:
- Asking clarifying questions to ensure you understand the other person’s point.
- Listening with the intention to fully grasp the other person’s meaning.
- Repeating back (in your own words) what the other person has said.
- Maintaining eye contact and giving your full attention.
- Refraining from interrupting to get your own point across.
If you can practice the art of active listening it can allow a leader to better understand the needs, concerns and desires those that you do business with. We have found from our experience in the hardwood lumber industry that if we have a better understanding of all aspects of our business by listening to others, it will allow our organization to be successful.
So, what are your hardwood lumber needs? We are ready to really listen.