While the ability to lead our organizations is extremely important, the ability to effectively lead our families, and specifically our children, holds a much higher priority in my book. If I am successful in building a great organization, but fail at building the next generation, I have missed the most important mark. Why should the individuals I work with get more of my leadership talent than those who I brought into this world?
One of the most important things to me as a father is to ensure that I have the hearts of my children. So, where do we start? We need to start by reaching their hearts.
The main thing I need to do to reach the heart of my child is to exercise good active listening. I know that probably seems overly simplistic. However, I work with a lot of people in this area and find that most of them are not nearly as good at listening as they think they are.
When we listen well to our children, we give them a sense of value and demonstrate to them that they are important to us. But, many things get in the way: my Blackberry or iPhone, the conversation inside my own head, time pressure, judgments I make about what my child is saying, formulating my response before they finish speaking, not taking away my attention from what I was doing and giving it to them completely...and many more.
Active listening turns everything else off and focuses completely on the one speaking...your child. Active listening involves the following:
- being intentional (purposeful, making an effort)
- being curious about what they have to say
- being focused completely on them
- going beyond just their words (as much as 94% of communication is non-verbal)
- paraphrasing and/or summarizing what they've said
What challenges do you face? How can you overcome those challenges? Is it important enough to you to work at it?
Seize the day!