Strong listening skills are important in well-rounded leaders-and they empower their teams as well.
Winifred King's career includes roles in broadcast journalism, brand marketing, promotions, public relations and—most recently—as the assistant vice president of public relations, corporate communications and social media at Cook Children's Health Care System in Fort Worth, Texas.
King has recently assumed the newly created position of chief diversity officer at Cook Children's. As she begins this role, she says she'll rely heavily upon one key trait.
"One of the things that has been so beneficial to me—and a value that we hold dear at Cook Children's—is listening," King says. "I know that I am the leader of my group, but my group has an incredible breadth and depth of expertise; I really value the ability to listen to them."
Listening is key to improvement as a leader
King says it's particularly important to be a good listener in her new role—one that is still being defined as organizations around the country are increasingly adding diversity officers to their senior leadership teams. Still, it's an important skill that can benefit anyone in a leadership position.
"Listening to my team has helped me grow as a leader; it has caused me to stretch as a leader," King says. "It has been eye-opening and really a comfort to me-listening is part of what has made me the leader that I am."
Listening fosters trust among management and staff
Further, it's beneficial to staff members. When they know their voices are heard and respected, it makes the entire team stronger, according to King.
"A lot of it truly is about trust. They trust each other, I trust them, and I hope that they trust me—the trust of my team is imperative," King says. I don't have all the answers, and I am not the sole expert in this field, but I value the fact that they feel comfortable and trusting enough to tell me the truth."
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