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Top tips for new leaders - listening

LISTENING! Listening as a school leader is important in helping others to feel valued.

Seems obvious really. And we always think we do this well. But do our staff/team think we listen to them? Have we asked them?

Being really present in the conversation and actively listening can take some practice and it is not always easy when you’re busy. But effective listening (and therefore good communication) is key to good leadership.

As a coach I try to remember these active listening strategies …

  • When I don’t understand what someone is saying I am open about this and say so. I seek clarity, and repeat back what the person has said or rephrase or paraphrase for meaning.

  • I don’t interrupt – I know that if I do I may stop the flow of the conversation and this can also make the person talking feel devalued.

  • I try to be open with my body. I lean forward and look the person who’s doing the talking in the eye. I make note of the body language of others who are talking and ask myself if they are they exhibiting a closed or open stance.

  • I pick up on a change in tone of voice, emotion or general mood in the person doing the talking. This helps my understanding of what the person is saying.

  • I endeavour to show empathy towards what the person is saying even if I do not agree with what’s being said.

  • I practice remaining silent and pausing to give my time to think of a reply if needed.

…which are also useful strategies to use when in a leadership role.

Think about:

· What strengths do you bring to listening and what’s working well already?

· Your team – how well do they listen to others?

· Have you any ‘listening’ blind spots?

People are more motivated when they feel they are listened to and this can be vital in establishing and building trust within your team.

Are you going to be doing anything differently in September?

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