Speak last

Speak last. It took me several years to understand this phrase in a leadership context. When I would speak first, in a meeting perhaps, I would tend to hear iterations of what I just said echo back to me from some of the participants. Imagine screaming in a cave. In one-on-one meetings speaking first meant that I inadvertently tipped the tables in my direction, not in theirs. In all of the situations were I spoke first, I unwittingly ended up worse off. Then I heard somebody say that if you are the leader, you should speak last. A lightbulb switched on. The informant said that by speaking last we stop prematurely coloring the conversation–that we give other opinions that may diverge from our own a sliver of light and air. It made complete sense, but only because I truly wanted the best ideas and opinions from other people, not lapdog opinions. The hard part? Actually speaking last. You can get the conversation started, of course, but it will probably look more like questions than statements.

by Jonathan Wilson

Jonathan is the Head Coach at Sandcastle Company, a Seattle-based leadership training organization. His first book, Future Leader: Rebooting Leadership to Win the Millennial and Tech Future [link], is now available. Jonathan regularly writes and speaks about The New Leader Way, leadership resilience, and the future of work. He has years of leadership experience in both the public and private sectors, a master's degree from Seattle University, and professional coach training from the University of Miami.

Filed under: Leadership

Published on October 16, 2018

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