Leadership expert Simon Sinek has made a career out of explaining what makes good leaders great ones. When it comes to meetings, he has one big piece of advice to aspiring great leaders: Be a better listener by being the last one to speak your opinion in a meeting.
“The skill to hold your opinions to yourself until everyone has spoken does two things: One, it gives everybody else the feeling that they have been heard. It gives everyone else the ability to feel that they have contributed,” he explained in a speech. “And two, you get the benefit of hearing what everybody else has to think before you render your opinion.”
When you wait to hear what your team is going to say, you’re giving your team a chance to grow into leaders who can feel comfortable sharing their opinions with each other. It builds team morale and it builds more productive discussions because studies has proven that the best teams choose conflict over cohesion and debate each other.
Why Nelson Mandela spoke last in his meetings
Practicing Sinek’s advice doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not talking at all, but it does mean you’re only talking to gather and clarify information through follow-up questions and statements to your team. (Why do you think we should move in that direction? Am I understanding you right on this point?) That way, the meeting becomes a useful debate for everyone involved instead of a personal power trip to convey your own thoughts and opinions.
In a Tony Robbins podcast where Sinek further elaborated on the topic of speaking last, Sinek uses anti-apartheid revolutionary and President of South Africa Nelson Mandela as a case study of a leader who learned to speak last from watching Jongintaba, the tribal king Read More Here