“You don’t get unity by ignoring the questions that have to be faced.” —Jay Weatherill
By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM
Every one of you is probably thinking “This doesn’t apply to me. My employees are always welcome to talk to me.” Guess what? Many of you would be surprised to find that your employees would disagree with you. And, when your employees aren’t talking to you, you miss out on the information and questions that can bring unity and success to your organization. So, why can’t your employees talk to you?
Robin S. Sharma explained, “Leadership is not a popularity contest; it’s about leaving your ego at the door.” It’s easy to fall into the mindset that your ideas have worked in the past so why do you need to listen to employees’ input now. Do you think you know what employees and customers want; that you know what’s best for them? When you let you ego go unchecked, you send the signal throughout your organization that there is no point in trying to talk to you. You come across as untrustworthy and disrespectful. You send the message that you think your employees are incompetent and their opinions are of little value. If you want your employee to talk to you, leave your ego at the door.
Charles Stanley believes, “Fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation.” I’m not talking about your employees’ fear, I’m talking about yours. Are you are afraid of what you will hear, that you might have to take on a challenge? Are you more comfortable maintaining the status quo than having to question it? When you let your fear interfere with being open to hearing what your employees have to say, you may be causing your organization and your leadership to stagnate. Your fear often causes you to become defensive, sending the message that you’re not open to listening to the ideas and perspectives of others. If you want your employees to talk to you, recognize your fear and turn it into curiosity.
James Caan said, “My least favorite phrase in the English language is ‘I don’t care’.” Are you a laissez-faire leader? Or maybe a better question is, are you perceived as a laissez-faire leader? Are you so hands-off that your employees question whether or not you even care? Recognize that there is a difference between trusting your employees to operate without undue interference from you, as a leader, and not wanting to be bothered with the issues or concerns of your employees. If you want your employees to talk to you, make sure they know that you care about what they have to say.
Make a Change
Robert Baden-Powell told us, “If you make listening and observation your occupation you will gain much more than you can by talk.” The key to effective leadership is influence, and others will be more open to influence when they feel they have been heard. Chances are you don’t even realize that you are perceived as not willing to listen. Keep your ego in check, don’t let fear stand in the way of what you might learn by listening, and make sure your employees know that you care about what they have to say. Sometimes, as a leader, there are challenges and questions that have to be faced. Make a change and ensure that your employees CAN talk to you.
© 2015 Elizabeth Stincelli
Elizabeth Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the CEO of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Elizabeth holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.
Learn more about Elizabeth by visiting her website, stincelliadvisors.com and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.