Listening to Values Enhances Leadership

A recent article by Tina Mertel, an author for the Chief Learning Officer website, notes that motivation can be difficult when leaders aren’t listening or paying attention to what’s important to their workers. Did you know that the number one reason employees leave their job is due to poor relationship quality with their immediate supervisor? Often, they say the pay and perks were acceptable but the relationship was underdeveloped and didn’t seem to be blooming with their immediate supervisor.

Leaders often fall into a routine of how they reward their employees. This method is often how the leader would like to be rewarded … However, to keep the relationship open and growing, it’s necessary to take a step back and ask what the employee would like. This in turn, will encourage employee development and support.

Being able to relate to your employees is a key ingredient to being a successful leader. An employee’s core values and proper alignment with your leadership style can create one of the strongest, most productive relationships with that employee. Actively listening to and reading your employees’ values will increase the effectiveness of your leadership style. This creates a circle of positivity, and can also increase motivation and retention among your employees. If an employee’s core values consist of looking for a challenge instead of looking to help someone, understanding what your employee wants can help you to support them.

Communication can easily be subconsciously altered based upon one’s values. A research focus for Elias Porter, a noteworthy psychologist, notes four motives of relating and three blended motives. Each motive is made up of a particular value system, and knowing these systems can help find personal biases and how to identify them in others. The seven motives:

1. Altruistic-nurturing: to help others.

2. Assertive-directing: to get results.

3. Analytic-autonomizing: creating order.

4. Flexible-cohering: team based and flexible.

5. Blend of 1 and 2.

6. Blend of 2 and 3.

7. Blend of 1 and 3.

The first step is realizing that as a leader, your values come first to you, and it’s crucial that you can put that aside and look at what your employees value. This requires open conversation and a ‘learning leader’ – find out what’s important to your employees! Point A in creating motivation is identifying values. Point B is becoming a stronger listener. Ask questions. Finding out an employee’s desires and needs will tell you what their values are. Really listening to your employees and understanding why they want something won’t necessarily resolve the problem, but at least each employee will know that you can relate to them.

Once relating begins, the problem can be solved. But too often leaders assume others are concerned with the same values they hold, miss this opportunity and set the stage for unintentional conflict.

Goals can be achieved by communicating the goal in a way that also speaks to others’ values. When your employees’ values vary from your own, take note and recognize how you can listen to and support their different motivations. Each employee is here to do a certain thing, but supporting why they want to do it will create a better working environment and can increase employee motivation and retention. To read more about how listening to your workforce’s values can enhance your leadership style, click here to read the full article.

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