Richard Branson’s Secrets to Leadership – Part 7
“Being a good listener is absolutely critical to being a good leader; you have to listen to the people on the front line.”
Most executives instinctively know the importance of communication, but unfortunately they think telling more and sharing more is what workers want. Instead, when team members are asking for communication, they are asking for two-way communication. They want to be heard.
“Listening is one of the most important skills that anyone can have. That’s a very Virgin trait. Listening enables us to learn from each other, from the marketplace, and from the mistake that must be made in order to get anywhere that is original and disruptive.”
Too often what looks to be listening is just the other person thinking of what they’re going to say to us as we speak. To truly listen—to actively listen—requires you to focus on the other person with the intent to understand.
Listening effectively doesn’t just involve words; we need to “listen” to what the other person’s body language is telling us too.
To truly discover what another person is thinking, and what they really want to share requires patience. Statements like, “tell me more” and questions like, “What else?” send a clear signal that you really do care. You are striving to understand the full situation.
“Personality before CV. A person who has multiple degrees in your field isn’t always better than someone with broad experience and a wonderful personality.”
Hiring great talent is essential to a successful business. A mistake can lead not just to sub-optimal performance, but can also directly affect customer relations and impact the morale of other workers who are high performers. According to research conducted by the US Department of Labor and Statistics, the average cost of a bad hire is equivalent to 30% of that person’s salary.
Branson notes that attitude and personality should trump skills. After all, it’s far easier to teach an employee about your industry or product than it is to teach tenacity or self-direction.
Great leaders also know that it’s important to hire for diversity. “Yes men” bring nothing new to the conference room. Diverse teams are winning teams.
“My number one rule in business, and in life, is to enjoy what you do.” –Richard Branson
A popular topic among business elite over the last couple of decades has been “work-life balance.” The concept itself segments “work” as something separate from life itself, and implies that we need to strive to balance a negative with a positive. Great leaders—and engaged employees—know that the secret to success is a work-life blend, not a balance.
“I don’t think of work as work and play as play. It’s all living.”
People give the most of themselves—including their creativity and ideas—when they are as comfortable at work as they are at home. They are most engaged when they have close friendships at work.