To be a good leader is to be observant. When you’re supporting your team, you must learn to notice what's going on around you.
Exceptional leaders are attuned to the needs of their employees and can foresee problems before they occur.
Developing your observational skills requires time and practice.
But with discipline, you can learn to excel. This guide will teach you everything you need to know about perfecting your observational skills.
What Are Observation Skills? What Role Do They Play In A Leader’s Life?
Observation skills are abilities that allow you to perceive the world around you better. We observe things all the time, but we often miss out on crucial information when we aren’t paying attention.
Things like body language, mood and energy levels, or nonverbal communication can all elude us if we lack proper observation skills.
The Benefits Of Having Observation Skills
When you’re a leader, you can't afford to be oblivious to the inner workings of your company, organization, or team.
Observation skills provide you with several benefits that build you up to be a better leader.
Here are a few examples:
The Principles of good communication is more than just what we say; it’s also how we say it.
The more we observe other people when they speak, the better we’ll understand their meaning behind their words.
Improved emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence enables us to understand why people feel the way they do. When we make a point to observe other people’s behavior, we learn how they’re likely to react to any given scenario in the future and can adjust our own actions accordingly.
Critical thinking is a necessary skill for any good leader.
To think critically, you must observe everything around you carefully to ensure that you have all of the facts and information relevant to make a decision.
More attention to detail
The difference between a great leader and a merely competent one is attention to detail.
Observational skills allow you to pick up on the little things that add a personal touch to every interaction you have, whether it’s with a client or a coworker.
What Do Great Leaders Observe?
Great leaders notice the small details in the world around them, because those details might provide valuable information.
Learn the examples of observation skills:
- Patterns, trends, synchronicities, and dissonances
- Body language
- The interplay between team members or divisions
- Mood and energy levels at a particular meeting
- Language, habits, and cultural markers in their organization
- What lights their people up–and conversely what leaves them flat
Leaders who pay attention to these important pieces of information gain invaluable insights into their employees and how to best motivate them.
How To Improve Your Observation Skills As A Leader
The best leaders are always looking for ways to improve.
To improve your observation skills, try these steps:
- Look for details
Observation takes practice. To gain discipline as an observer, take a little bit of time every day to look for details in your surroundings.
You’ll train yourself to become more observant of the tiniest details.
- Avoid distractions
Distractions are one of the primary reasons we fail to be observant. You can miss vital information when you're too absorbed in your own world.
Commit yourself to thirty minutes without interruption, putting your phone on silent, and see how this changes your ability to focus.
- Slow down
If you are always rushing from one thing to another, it is difficult to be present with what you are doing now.
If you find yourself rushing, take a moment to pause and remind yourself that it’s more important to give each task your all than it is to do 20 things sloppily.
- Talk less, listen more
When you talk to someone, focus less on what you want to say and more on what the other person has to say.
If you try to listen twice as much as you speak, you’ll walk away with much more information than if you talk the other person’s ear off.
- Proactively observe yourself
It can be helpful to step back and look at ourselves from the outside in.
Try to observe yourself at different intervals throughout the day. Observe your body–are you stressed?
Grinding your teeth? Is your attention wandering? The more you can observe yourself, the more easily you’ll be able to observe others.
- Practice civil discourse
Civil discourse is an excellent way to enhance communication and improve observation skills at the same time.
To engage in civil discourse, don’t interrupt, practice active listening, and wait for the other person to finish speaking before formulating your own response.
- Keep an observation journal
An observation journal can help you to become more observant.
Carry a small notebook with you and make observations throughout the day on different people and things, such as the objects in the room, what people say and do, and anything you can sense.
- Quantify things as you notice them
Whenever possible, quantify the things you observe.
Rather than just noticing the presence of birds on a power line while driving to work, count the number of different birds.
The more specific your observations skills are, the more observant you’ll be.
These workplace observation examples will help you improve your leadership skills by sharpening your powers of observation.
With a bit of practice and discipline, you’ll train yourself to be more present and mindful while sharpening your powers of observation at the same time.