We argue at Legitimate Leadership that leaders gain trust whenever they suspend their agenda for their people’s agenda. Listening is a good example of that. When leaders truly listen they not only don’t talk but they turn down the voice in their head (their agenda) to give full and total attention to the agenda or needs of their people. We agree with Simon Sinek wholeheartedly, therefore, when he encourages leaders to develop the practice of being the last to speak.
OUR SUMMARY OF THIS VIDEO: Nelson Mandela is an important case study in leadership because different personalities are viewed differently in different places in the world, but Nelson Mandela is regarded as a great leader everywhere.
Nelson Mandela was born the son of a tribal chief. When asked by a journalist how he had become a great leader, he said, ‘When I was a boy I remember going to tribal meetings with my father and I remember that they always sat in a circle and my father was always the last to speak.’
So his father was the most senior person, the tribal chief, but he was always the last to speak.
We are constantly telling people to be better listeners – but at the end of the day we have to speak eventually.
Often, the senior person comes in and, with good intentions, says, ‘This is the problem, this is the challenge, this is what I think we should do, but I’m interested in what you have to say …’
Well, it’s too late. You bias the room, it’s over … or you’ve made people feel that their opinion doesn’t matter.
I’m tired of the term ‘soft skills’. It’s the combination of hard skills and human skills that we need in order to be better human beings, and listening is one of those.
So I advocate coming into a meeting, stating a problem, not giving an opinion, playing poker, not letting anybody know what you think as they speak, asking questions only out of curiosity (not to push somebody in one direction or another) and literally being the last to speak. Not only will you make people feel like their opinions matter but you will get the benefit of new ideas.
You can still make the same decision you wanted to make at the beginning but you get all that additional benefit. So practice being the last to speak.