By Andrea Tantillo, DTM, PRM | November 2023
In a culture that focuses on speaking, it’s easy to forget the important role listening plays in good communication and effective leadership. The ability to listen attentively is an essential leadership and communication skill that is tied to our personal growth and is cultivated in Toastmasters.
Leadership strikes an important balance between giving commands, making decisions, and understanding the needs of your team members. Guiding a team and fostering a collaborative and productive environment is built on the leader’s ability to be a good listener.
Build Trust – Leaders who listen to their teams show that they value team members and their opinions. This not only builds trust, but also demonstrates inclusiveness and encourages engagement,
Solve Problems – Leaders don’t have all the answers, but leaders who listen have a better understanding of the questions or the problem and can work with a team to identify challenges and recommend solutions.
Resolve Conflict – Put two people in a room, and you have a good chance of having conflict. Being able to listen to each other and understand different perspectives is a powerful tool for conflict resolution. Leaders who allow parties in conflict to express their concerns can often mediate issues and find a common ground.
Develop Team Members – Whether it’s in the workplace, in your family, or in a Toastmasters Club, when you listen to your team members’ goals and concerns, you are in an ideal position to provide mentorship and other opportunities to help foster team growth and loyalty.
Toastmasters clubs provide stellar training and practice opportunities for honing your listening skills.
Evaluations – A core element of a Toastmasters Club meeting is the evaluation, in which someone provides real-time, constructive feedback on another member’s prepared speech. This practice reinforces the importance of active listening.
Table Topics – Impromptu exercises require participants to listen carefully to the questions to be able to answer them effectively.
Meeting Roles – Taking on roles in a meeting, including the Grammarian and Ah-Counter, require members to pay attention to language usage, further increasing attention to detail and active listening.
Overall, being a good listener is an essential trait for an effective leader. Refining listening skills can enhance a leaders’ ability to build trust, solve problems, resolve conflict, and develop team members. You can practice these valuable leadership skills during regular Toastmasters Club meetings by participating as an evaluator, answering table topics questions, or taking on a meeting role.