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 In Culture, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Leadership Tips, Relationship Building

LET YOUR EARS LEAD

Good leaders make it a priority to hear from their people. However, in most workplaces, people don’t feel heard. According to Gallup data, three out of ten employees in the US agree strongly that their opinions don’t matter at work. The reality is we all want to be heard. We want our voices to matter. Effective listening is essential for successful leadership, and it is a key part in meeting five critical employee needs. Listening helps your people feel valued. When your people feel valued, they will be more engaged and will go above and beyond.

EFFECTIVE LISTENING IN ACTION

Our partners at the School District of Menomonee Falls exemplify effective listening in how school leaders there are highlighting student voices. The school district is working with students in the VOICE student group, proactively listening to them and engaging with them in addressing barriers. VOICE stands for Voices of Individuals Changing Education, representing the voice that the students have within the school environment.

“To be a successful leader, you have to be able to listen to all, and that means parents, and that means staff, and most importantly that means our largest group—our students,” explains Menomonee Falls High School Principal Bob Vitale.

VOICE started about five years ago when the district hired independent consultant Dr. Alisia Moutry.

“I am really proud to be able to work with Menomonee Falls Schools District,” says Dr. Moutry. “The students have great ideas, and it’s really important for them to be able to see their ideas in action and see that someone not only listened but they did something about it.”

One area VOICE students recently took charge in was a school mascot change, which is now the Phoenix.

“This final name came from our kids,” Vitale explains. “This is what our kids wanted. This is what our kids voted on. If you could have been a part of watching them work, you would have been amazed. I am just extremely proud of this group.”

“I love my administration,” says Hailey Carver, a member of VOICE. “It’s very encouraging knowing they want to hear our voices. We are a very diverse group of students—white, black, brown, all the colors—everyone is included. We come together to solve and talk about current issues that are pretty heavy most of the time. It’s very empowering being a part of that group.”

The school district and the students are taking positive action together, making school better and more inclusive.

“The VOICE group had an opportunity one time to have lunch with the superintendent, Corey Golla,” explains Dr. Moutry. “He came and just had lunch with them. They had a chance to walk with him. They brought up concerns about different things. The students talked about wanting to have gender neutral bathrooms, they talked about a student bench to sit outside out in the courtyard area. They talked about it, Corey heard about it and Bob made some of this stuff happen.”

“If you sit back and watch these kids, it is so gratifying and satisfying,” says Vitale. “Just to hear them and just to hear the reports that Alicia gives me after these meetings. I am so proud of these kids!”

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