Most Common Listening Mistakes Committed by Team Leaders (and How to Correct Them)

Most Common Listening Mistakes Committed by Team Leaders (and How to Correct Them)


In various case studies and surveys of employees working in teams, it’s been found that in general, they’re able to share information properly with their team. On the flip side, one of the most common failings of typical leaders is that they’re not able to listen to their team member properly.

Leaders, of course, may excuse their actions by saying that as team leader they have too many issues to deal with. Sometimes listening takes too much time, so it can be difficult to slow down and take the time to actually listen.

Yet this excuse doesn’t really fly—because if you’re a poor listener then you’re a poor leader as well. When you don’t listen, the implicit message is that you don’t really care about the other person and what they have to say. Such an attitude can be demoralizing and it can then affect team dynamics and productivity.

You may think that this isn’t a problem for you, but are you sure? Here are some signs of a poor listener and see if it’s a mistake you’re guilty of committing:

Mistake 1. You Think You’re Right All the Time

Self-confidence is one thing, but believing that you’re never wrong can lead you being a poor listener. Such a belief may make you intolerant of criticisms, corrections, or suggestions for change. When you can’t entertain the notion that you may be wrong, them your teamwork will definitely suffer.

Mistake 2. You’re Impatient

Many team leaders earn their position because they have experience in solving various problems. The problem is that sometimes you don’t listen to more than a few words when you’re already on problem-solving mode and giving advice and suggestions. However, cutting people off can be a mistake, as you don’t have the complete picture when you give your proposed solutions.

Mistake 3. You’re Prejudiced

It’s true that many business leaders develop great instincts. But you may be confusing your instincts with your prejudice. When you immediately think that someone on your team is inadequate, foolish, or just plain crazy, you’re apt to fail to listen to what they have to say.

So how do you know if you’re prejudiced? If you’ve made up your mind about disagreeing with someone before they’ve had their say, it’s pretty safe to conclude you’re prejudiced against them.

Mistake 4. You Filter What You Hear

To be a good listener, you have to hear everything that your team members have to say. You don’t have to agree with everything they say, but you can’t pick and choose what you want to hear. Some team members, on the other hand, are very good at not hearing anything they don’t want to hear. These things can be anything unpleasant, critical, or negative. But as team leader, you need to hear the bad as well as the good.

Mistake 5. You’re Always on the Lookout for Subtext

Those who think they’re great at reading minds are poor listeners. That’s because they’re so busy trying to look for hidden agendas or “the real truth” in the intonations, stances, and facial expressions of their team members when they’re speaking. As a result, these team leaders don’t hear the message itself.

Final Advice

See if you’re guilty of making any of these listening mistakes, and try to correct them. To help with your listening skills, try to paraphrase what your team member has told you. This will confirm to your team members that you listened, and that you understood what they said. When you tend to reply with statements like “In other words,” you make sure that everyone’s on the same page.

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