You have trained your whole life for this. Countless hours in the gym. Running and sprinting to exhaustion more than once have you had to have IV fluids just to recover. Countless times you have passed up desserts. Huge amounts of time spent away from family. Limited friendships because of intense focus on your goals. Your lifestyle has been geared towards one thing: listening. Listening for that gun to go off. Listening so intently that you push everything out of your mind. The training, the eating, the discipline, the competitors; all is pushed out so you can listen for that gun. Such is the life of an olympic sprinter.
Few leaders blatantly disregard, reject, or neglect members of their team. That would not help an organization reach their goal regardless of what it is. Engagement is a key principle in the modern day workforce. Many organizations conduct surveys to measure engagement. Bonuses are paid to leaders based upon their teams engagement survey results. Some organizations take it so far that any FTE requests will be balanced against the hiring managers engagement scores. Low team engagement, no new employees. The argument there is that if you can bring some low engaged employees to a higher level of engagement, you gain an FTE from a productivity perspective.
When you finally hear that gun go off, you execute. There is no time to think, just rely on your training and go. There, everything comes together. But no one starts this intense execution without completely stopping and listening wholeheartedly like everything is lost if you don’t listen in that moment.
How can you as a leader make someone engage and really feel connected to the mission? The answers vary, but I know the answer is not looking at your cell phone while you are in a meeting with them. Do I do this? Yes. Do I feel dissed when it is done to me, yes? Is that really disregard, rejection, and neglect? Well, that depends on how you define the word listen. Dictionary.com says that disregard, reject, and neglect are antonyms of the word listen.
If you have listened for the gun well, it could give you a significant competitive advantage. You could gain a step by listening well, which in a game where the difference between 1st and 2nd place is measured by hundredths of a second, that could make or break your career.
It is not intentional but rather almost habitual, these distractions that cause us to not listen well. When we do listen however, are we just listening for the break so we can interject our thoughts or are we listening with such intense focus that our careers depend on the competitive advantage that this next sound might give us.
I want to listen like Usain Bolt on the starting block. I don’t want to just do this with my boss, I want to do this with everyone. There is an old saying that you play like you practice. Try to listen in your very next conversation like the words you are going to hear could change your career or life for the better. Try this more that once and you will see how to gain the trust of anyone and create a very productive culture of engagement.