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Why Leadership Means Listening

Today's employees want to be asked for feedback and they want to be heard. Here are four tips to help you become a better listener

Over the past several weeks, I interviewed a half-dozen well-known business leaders for a new book on communications. One theme came up repeatedly—great leaders are great listeners. Extraordinary men and women solicit feedback, listen to opinions, and act on that intelligence. Listening skills have always been important in the workplace, but are even more so when dealing with young employees. Recently researchers at Hudson, a staffing and executive search firm, conducted a survey of 2,000 employees across multiple generations.

The differences they found were striking. One-quarter of "Generation X" employees (born between 1965 and 1979) considered it very important to get feedback from their boss at least once a week, if not every day, while only 11% of "traditionalists" (born between 1928 and 1945) desired that level of communication. Clearly, times have changed and so have employee attitudes. Today's employee wants to be asked for feedback and he wants to be heard. Here are some tips for becoming a better listener: