I wish I had a quarter for every time I’ve heard from managers and employees that “we’re just not being heard.” We hear a lot lately on all of the key traits of effective leadership. Yes, a leader must have drive, determination, and commitment to be at all effective…. A holistic leader is one who inspires and encourages others by providing clarity in the company vision, focus on the mission, and allows creativity in execution. Traits such as empathy, compassion, and humility – all extra credit! That said, guess what happens to all of the above traits if the leader is not a good “listener?” If you guessed that all of those fabulous traits lose all of their value, you”re spot-on.

The very people responsible for delivering on the mission of the company become complacent, then mediocre, then fairly useless. I”m not talking about the kind of listening where you sit on your hands while your manager or employee vomits on you with all of the things that they think are wrong with the company. The form of listening where the leader is truly engaged and fully present in his or her dialog with the team is key and what experts call “active listening.”  It is an essential part of the “feedback-loop” that solidifies clarity and understanding between individuals. When done consistently, it fosters loyalty, trust, and respect between the employee and employer. Ultimately, engaged employees deliver results!

Don’t wait for an annual review to start listening. Make an effort to invest time in sitting with your people without pre-judgment or opinion. If nothing else, you will show that you care. Be mindful that we all want the same things: to be heard, honored, and – most importantly – valued. It’s a fact that most employees eventually leave their job not for monetary reasons, but because they feel that they are not valued or they don’t “matter.”