My biggest failure as a manager occurred when I did not hear the needs or woes of my team. I did not pay attention, did not read stressed faces and paid mind only to my own tasks. Your core mission as a manager? Get results out of others. If you do not understand your team because you have not listened to them, then you cannot possibly know their strengths and weaknesses enough to optimize results. You cannot tap into people’s drive if you have no grounds to empathize with them. It takes time and energy to “be there” for your team. It takes patience to hear every word and understanding to process everything. It often takes forgiveness and humility to avoid taking things personally. It takes regular interaction to stay current (people change, after all). More than anything else, it takes open ears. Listen to your team, hear them out. If they don’t speak, ask questions. Schedule a meeting. Go out for drinks or a meal. Whatever it takes to make your people comfortable enough to speak their mind.