[February 21, 2018] Simon Sinek gives leaders great advice when he says that despite everyone telling us that we need listen better, in fact, we need to speak last. The skill to hold your opinion to yourself until everyone has spoken is the epitome of good leadership. He says it well (see short YouTube video, 1:40 minutes, link here).
“If you agree with somebody, don’t nod yes. If you disagree with somebody, don’t nod no. This gives everyone the feeling that they have been heard and you get the benefit of hearing what everyone else thinks.” – Simon Sinek, British-American author, motivational speaker and marketing consultant
Leaders must understand what others think and feel. Leaders must understand what and why others think a certain way. And, only by doing this can a leader get truthful, quality feedback from those that person leads. It sounds easy, according to Sinek, but it is actually very hard.
All of us have opinions; those views or judgments formed from out personal perceptions that are not necessarily based on facts or knowledge. Our opinions are shaped by many factors (beyond this blog post) and change and morph as well over time. Opinions, like assumptions, should be verified whenever possible; by trial and error if no other option is available.
The risk of an opinion, a high risk, is that is likely wrong. In complex organizations this risks profits and possibly lives. These organizations will employ tested and proven procedures and processes that are designed to strip out the errors that thread themselves throughout opinions. Leaders who speak first and then listen to others have shaped the opinions of others and that is not the best method of getting at the truth.
Sinek’s advice is simple, “Be the last to speak.” To master the skill of being the last to speak can be achieved by anyone but it is the best leaders who most need it.