The Need for Leaders to Exhibit Beyond-Growth Behavior
Constantly increasing growth stress can be equated to overstepping in leadership. In people-centric organizations, this is unacceptable as human welfare is paramount. “The individual is the focus, and sustainable outcomes are the natural consequence,” says Sven Rickli, organizational psychologist.
This sentiment resonates with many in my, Muriel Schrikkema, circle. Many managers and employees are driven by a singular focus on growth, stretching themselves thin and eventually burning out. Our research at the HPO Center and through feedforward analysis™ shows that for sustainable high performers to excel, they require energy, inspiration, and focus. This often contradicts the growth-centric mindset. Understanding your motivation, passion, and direction requires time and effort. Organizations need to invest time in understanding their employees.
Leaders should exhibit “beyond-growth” behavior. Rickli advocates for humanizing organizations, and I echo the need for more “caring” leadership. Individuals require proper attention to excel.
Listening Skills for Leaders and Managers
In a world that values quick responses and productivity, genuine listening is often overlooked. Yet, Sarah Sarkis, a psychologist and senior director of performance psychology at Exos, emphasizes the importance of active listening. Leaders should not just catch words but grasp the underlying emotions in conversations. Mastering this skill allows managers to guide their teams more effectively, ensuring long-term success. True listening goes beyond processing words to understanding the emotions, motivations, and concerns behind them.
The importance of active listening for leaders includes:
- Building team trust: When team members feel heard, it fosters trust, facilitating open communication crucial for effective teamwork.
- Gaining insight into team dynamics: Active listening helps leaders understand and proactively address underlying team tensions.
- Promoting innovation: Genuine conversations can spark new ideas. By actively listening, leaders can recognize and support innovative solutions.
- Managing conflicts: Active listening enables early conflict detection and resolution before situations escalate.
Genuine Attention: In essence, when team members feel genuinely heard, they are more inclined to discuss their contributions to growth, share their experiences and concerns, and discuss their specific needs. This fosters collective efforts towards sustained excellence and value addition. Therefore, alongside “daring” (results-focused) leadership, growth-oriented organizations also need more “caring” (people-focused) leadership.
Strategies to Improve Listening Skills
Beyond Sarkis’s recommendations, here are additional strategies for leaders:
- Be present: Fully engage in the moment, undistracted, to listen and respond effectively.
- Maintain open body language: Eye contact, nodding, and an open posture indicate full engagement in a conversation.
- Provide feedforward: Confirm understanding by providing relevant feedback and asking clarifying questions.
- Avoid interruptions and allow pauses: Wait for the speaker to finish, showing respect and gaining a fuller understanding of their perspective.
In today’s era, where a shift towards beyond-growth and people-centric leadership is essential, the ability to listen actively and empathetically is crucial. It’s not just a skill but a mindset. Practiced well, it can transform organizations into more inclusive, understanding, and productive workplaces.
Source: article “Psychologist: The No. 1 soft skill highly successful people use at work—‘It’s like having a superpower’” and LinkedIn post by Sven Rickli.
Key Takeaways from This Article:
- People-Centric Leadership: Growth shouldn’t compromise employee well-being. In people-centric organizations, individuals come first.
- Beyond-Growth Behavior: Leaders should focus on employee well-being, passion, and inspiration instead of just growth.
- Active Listening: Leaders should understand the emotions and concerns behind words, fostering trust, understanding team dynamics, promoting innovation, and aiding conflict resolution.
- Enhancing Listening Skills: Being present, open body language, providing feedforward, and allowing speakers to finish are strategies to enhance listening.
- Caring & Daring Leadership: Effective leadership requires a balance of ‘daring’ (results-focused) and ‘caring’ (people-focused) attributes.
- Inclusive Workplace: Active and empathetic listening is vital to create a more inclusive and productive work environment.