Powerful Coaching Practices for Manufacturing Leaders - Part 2: Listening Simply to Understand and Not to Judge, Fix, or Solve

Posted by Stacey Curry on Jan 3, 2023 11:33:44 AM


A 6-part series focusing on impactful practices for developmental coaching conversations. 

Listening as a leadership competency is talked about often, but unfortunately a lot of our own “stuff’ gets in the way of actually listening with an open heart and mind.  We come to the conversation with a preconceived context, we have unconscious and sometimes conscious biases towards the person or situation, and even our mental, physical, and spiritual state of being plays a significant role in how we show up and listen to what is being shared.

If you want to truly enhance your listening – treat it as if it were a muscle in your body and take every effort to condition and increase your strength. Here are some helpful reflections to begin your workout.  

  1. Become a witness to your personal biases. We all are wired for judgement and bias, and there is no shame in that. We as leaders must begin to acknowledge these personal biases and gain a deeper understanding of them. Allowing our biases to cloud our abilities to listen is our ego taking over. Strong or critical biases set out to prove rightness and wrongness. It also works the other way as well – when we have a positive bias towards the person or situation, we may unwittingly show preferential treatment; thus, creating the perception of favoritism.  Our biases drive our feelings and emotions, which drive our behaviors, creating reactions that ultimately lead to the outcomes of our conversations. If the conversation outcome resulted in less than a positive experience, go back and check your biases. 

  2. All conversations have value. Manufacturing leaders move at lightning speed, and if truth be told, this does not help condition our listening muscle. When someone is sharing their story with you – slow down, pause, and show up for them. Hearing their story, issue, concern, challenge, whatever it is – is truly important to them. When we pause to listen and focus our attention solely on the other person, we are helping to humanize their experience, which results in creating a deeper level of trust.

  3. Check Your Ego. When we immediately go into solve or fix it mode – it is our ego getting in the way. Check your ego by resisting the urge to immediately solve, fix, interrupt, or to pontificate on your own experiences. Pay attention to what is being said and not said, do not attach yourself to certain outcomes, and ask probing, thoughtful questions to gain more insight and help discover what is truly needed.
  4. Listen to Understand Their Perspective. We have a deep need to shape reality in our own way and this may limit the breadth of our perspective. Listening with an open heart and mind requires us to simply be curious, asking ourselves “what is this person truly sharing with me and what am I learning about them in this moment”? Listening also requires us to be vulnerable by allowing for humility. Set your agenda to the side and lean into their world to gain greater insight into their perspective.  

Listening - true listening - is incredibly hard. Leaders who listen well and practice listening intentionally inspire, encourage, allow for failure, build up, are bravely honest, and care deeply about their team members. Great listeners put the other person first and honor the moment being shared.


Next Up: Powerful Coaching Practice #3: Holding Up the Mirror

Schedule a complimentary leadership coaching assessment with Stacey Curry here.

Stacey Curry

Written by Stacey Curry

Topics: manufacturing, Leadership, workforce coaching, Leadership Development, Team Coaching, leadership coaching, workplace culture

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