Listening to the people you are trying to persuade.
The purpose of leadership is to get someone, mainly a group of people, to do something – and that’s to follow you, to agree with your plans and to move to convincing others about your ideas.
You need to convey your message in a way that convinces them to get on board.
And the way you convince them is to listen to them. Not only to what they’re saying but also to what they’re NOT saying. Listen between the lines. Find out what they’re worried about, the problems they can’t seem to solve, and where they feel depleted.
When people are deciding whether to follow you or not they have questions. They want answers. They want direction. They want solutions to tough questions – answers that affect their lives. They are asking “what’s in it for me?” They are also paying attention to how interested you really are in what they think and feel.
They need to trust who you are and what you stand for. Give them both. Show them who you are. Display, or better yet, live your core values and beliefs. Be a role model for anything and everything you expect from them.
Talk to your followers about who they are. What matters to them? What do they stand for? What is their level of commitment? Find out where the gaps are and what information they are missing.
Before you can expect people to follow you, you need to understand them. The best way to do this is to listen. There are three levels to listening.
The first level of listening is with your ears. Your ears are naturally sensitive and designed to pick up words and sound. You hear what they are saying, when and how they are saying it. You gather information. This level of listening requires your presence but not much else. This is the listening level you put on when you’re attending a snooze fest training seminar where the keynote sounds like Ben Stein.
The second level of listening is with your eyes. You are looking at the person sharing what is on their mind, opening up about what confuses them or causes them pain or excitement. At this level you are watching from a nonjudgmental unconditional view. Notice their facial expressions. Look into their eyes. See their intention. Listen to the emotion in their voice. Try to understand what is missing from the conversation.
The third level of listening is with your heart. This is the most difficult level of listening. It requires you suspend all assumptions. You give your full attention to the person, stopping your mind from forming a response and giving your undivided attention. You take in everything you are observing. Your focus is on a deeper emotional level. You are listening for meaning.
When you learn to listen at all three levels you become an expert listener which in turn guarantees you success as a skillful, intuitive and followed leader.