Monday 13 August 2012

Sure You Know the Answer, But Ask Somebody Else Anyway!

The art of listening is one of the most valuable skills for a leader. Whether you're a team leader, technical lead, or simply more experienced than some of your colleagues, you'll gain a great deal by doing an appropriate proportion of listening relative to the amount of talking that you do. Remember, we're born with two ears but only one mouth; that sounds a good proportion for listening versus talking!

I've previously written about listening in the context of being a better leader/colleague, but there's more to the art of listening. If an issue or a challenge arises for your team, consider asking your team to propose a solution, even if you're confident you personally know how best to respond to the issue or challenge. You will benefit from making the team take responsibility, and it reduces their dependence on you - you don't want to be the cause of your team having a bus factor of 1!

Members of the team have probably faced a majority of the issues long before you joined. Remember, you are trying to help the team learn to work without your help; you're not trying to make your team dependant upon you. Sometimes, this means you have to let them make a decision that goes against your best judgement. Teams need to learn by their mistakes; and, in my experience, often times their idea works out, which means you can learn something too - and that's got to be a good thing for everybody.