I often coach new leaders to listen as though their life depends on it. But to who? Not everyone can provide valuable input, right? Perhaps not but, there are some key groups to whom you should pay special attention. Listening comes in many forms. You’ve got to listen to your Board, your direct reports AND their direct reports and a host of other groups, collectively they will make or break your leadership.
When I say listen to your Board, I mean understanding their goals for your organization and what is important to them. What is their legacy going to be? How do you fit into that? Communicating that you understand and respect this affirms a Board member and you get to shape their involvement in the organization, as they feel a nice degree of authorship from your alignment with them.
Your Direct Reports
Naturally listening to your direct reports is essential. You will come to understand their POV and how they see shaping your organization from their position. This gives you a great window into how to contribute to their growth and development. Check in with your directs regularly and lead with questions that give them an opportunity to let you know how things are. You’ll learn a lot and not just their input/insight but, how much they are paying attention “out there.” Those who are truly aligned with the collective goals will have much to say versus those who are “calling it in.”
THEIR Direct Reports
How often to you have meaningful discussion with those in the trenches? As you skip down to your direct’s staff you gain an important perspective. You get a window into how your executive team is leading and contributing to their respective teams. This is essential work. It presents you as an inclusive leader versus an arms-length leader. It also lets their superiors know that YOU value their directs’ input so, they better value it too!
People know when you are removed from them and when you are connected to them. Make sure its the latter.
Mastering alignment with each group drives your acceptance on a personal level, professional level and coach level.