Influential leaders don’t tell their followers what to do, how to do something, and when to do things, but they inspire and influence them to think creatively and productively using various supportive techniques. Influence by leaders can make followers think in the right direction.
The most influential technique for communication is active listening by asking probing questions. Listening with probing questions encourage the followers to think more clearly and effectively.
Active listening with probing is a subtle leadership skill to make followers think purposefully and methodically. It addresses the problem of the proverbial paradox in ‘you can force a horse to a river but cannot make him drink’. Influence is just the opposite of forcing and micromanaging.
Active listening requires the psychological understanding of followers with skilful refinement through years of working with people at various levels. Making other people think in the desired direction requires definite empathy and compassion. The golden rule is putting oneself in another’s shoes while listening.
Some proven approaches and methods can be used for active listening. These methods can add the required type of intelligence needed to understand other people. For example, emotional maturity, social intelligence, and mindfulness are three common capabilities that can be used to inspire other people to think effectively.
Paying attention to people’s current moods, body language, tone of voice, and other clues from their conversations, influential leaders can steer conversations in healthier and more productive directions.