We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.
While the wisdom of this thought applies to every facet of our lives, it is critical in the business world, where jobs, profits, growth and careers hang in the balance. Being able to create and deliver a great presentation is an excellent skill to have. But you may not accomplish your goals if you don’t carefully listen to, and understand, your audience’s remarks and questions.
That’s why top Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree programs include coursework in communications. Consider this: the United States Department of Labor Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) identified five competencies and three foundation skills required for success in the workplace, and listening counts as a foundational skill.
Here are three of the most important reasons why being a good business leader requires being a good listener.
1. Good business leaders draw on the expertise of others.
Many areas of specialization exist in today’s business environment, and smart professionals recognize that they can’t know everything. They tap others’ experience and knowledge to complement and strengthen their own.
The first step in drawing on others’ strengths is being able to listen and learn. This sounds simple, but business has been seen as a competitive arena — traditionally, anyway. If the competition between individuals is stronger than the cooperation between them, their ability to listen to one another usually disappears. This leads into the next important point.
2. Listening promotes teamwork.
Because project management, operational management, and strategic planning require a wide range of skills and expertise, the most difficult and important work in business today falls to teams of talented individuals.
However, working in a team setting poses certain challenges, one of which is the tendency of some to dominate. Strong listening and leadership skills can help offset this tendency and create a conducive environment for each team member to contribute fully. This results in a win-win: employees feel engaged, and the company maximizes productivity.
Students can hone their listening skills in an online MBA program in which they learn how to communicate in a team setting.
3. Problem solving relies on listening.
The work of leaders and managers almost always involves problem solving. It is essential for the smooth running of an organization and often needed when designing and implementing growth strategies.
The first — and perhaps most important — step in problem solving involves understanding the problem. Truly understanding a problem requires setting one’s biases and opinions aside and really listening to what others are saying. Only then can team members collaborate to arrive at the best possible solution.
Why is it important to listen in business? The answer lies in a simple truth: Business isn’t companies doing business with companies, it’s people doing business with people.
Learn more about the Baylor online MBA program.
Have a question or concern about this article? Please contact us.