The Last to Speak - A Quick Lesson in Leadership

in #life5 years ago (edited)

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I recently came cross an episode on the Tony Robbins Podcast in which the guest speaker Simon Sinek (the author of the NY Times Bestseller – ‘Start with Why’) speaks on his rules for success.

Of all the things Simon said in this 50-minute podcast, there was one fascinating point on leadership that stood out for me. Simon made his point using a rather lovely anecdote from Nelson Mandela’s life.

The late Nelson Mandela was one of the most globally loved leaders of the 20th century and the man had accredited some of his legendary leadership qualities to his father - a respected local tribal chief.
Mandela once reminisced about the time he used to accompany his father to the tribal meetings as a child. As per this legend, there were two things that he recollected from each of those meetings – the fact that everybody sat in a circle, and the fact his father (the chief) was always the LAST to speak.

This was the key point that Simon too was trying to drive home in his talk.

“When as a leader, if you are the last to speak, not only do you give everybody around the satisfaction of voicing their opinion, but you also gain the benefit of their insights”.

Practically everybody (from small team managers to the global corporate heads) know that listening is a key skill in leadership. And yet how often do you see a good leader with excellent listening skills?

In all my years in the corporate world, I have seen that the vast majority of managers and leaders are far more eager to hammer down their opinions in meetings than show the necessary patience to listen to insights of those around. And many such ‘leaders’, despite all their ‘wisdom’ and ‘experience’ fail to get fresh perspectives simply because they are bad listeners and unaware of that personal drawback of theirs themselves.

Most of us believe we are good listeners based on our own prejudiced perspectives. Listening skills are actually quite hard to come and require a lot of practice. We often overestimate our listening skills because we really don’t have an objective way of knowing how fine our listening skills really are.

So, in a nutshell, how do you ensure that you become a great listener and thereby imbibe at least one excellent quality of great leaders? Simple – just be the last to speak.


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