Listening More By Howard Rich
Steward-minded leaders are listening more – directing less.
Steward-minded leaders can help their employees by focusing more on listening and less on giving directives. The steward leader can accomplish this by creating conversations around shared values, spending less time speaking and more time listening, and caring about God’s calling on each employee’s life. By allowing employees a voice, leaders build a greater level of involvement with the shared vision and direction of the organization.
The leader must be attentive to opportunities for dialogue throughout the organization; he must spend more time asking questions than giving orders. By asking questions and fostering dialogue, leaders can assess whether their values and the direction of their decisions match those in the organization. Dialogue helps the leader know if his leadership properly aligns with his constituents.
Employees want to be valued as competent, responsible, and trusted contributors to the success of their organization. An effective leader will set guidelines, assign tasks, and define roles which distribute authority among followers, creating an environment of empowerment.
Steward leaders must provide a safe work environment where employees feel free to voice their opinions while challenging systems and processes in an effort to complete the tasks given them. Leaders who desire to empower employees to make decisions and contribute to the vision of an organization must listen attentively.
Leaders who do not listen to employees cripple an organization, and guarantee the departure of talent.
Job security and employee loyalty are quickly disappearing as the global economy becomes more competitive. Employees are increasingly concerned with their own personal development and less motivated by putting their life energy into furthering corporate fortunes unless it enriches their lives in some way. As a consequence, workers are constantly looking for ways to improve their marketability and for better employment options.
If their current employer does not offer the best opportunities for meaning and self-improvement, employees quickly move to an organization willing to invest in them.
Howard Rich is the VP of Operations for the Network of International Christian Schools (NICS).
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