We all know great leaders excel at articulating their vision. What's less often appreciated is that listening is an equally valuable leadership skill.
Why? First, because feeling truly heard is deeply empowering for a team. As Yale business professor Marissa Kind has explained, "when employees feel listened to, they are less likely to feel emotionally exhausted and less likely to quit their job. They are also more likely to trust -- and like -- their bosses, and feel committed to them."
Second, because you need to actually hear and process information about the world to be able to set a sensible vision in the first place. Listening well makes you smarter.
So how do you get better at this essential but under sung skill? There are a million suggestions out there, but perhaps one of the most powerful is also the simplest. It comes from author Simon Sinek and consists of all of five little words.
"Be the last to speak."
In the quick snippet of a talk below (hat tip to design blog swissmiss), Sinek offers a profound leadership lesson that's dead easy to remember: be the last to speak.
"I see it in boardrooms every day of the week, even people who consider themselves to be good leaders, who may actually be decent leaders, will walk into the room and say, 'Here's the problem. Here's what I think, but I'm interested in your opinion. Let's go around the room.' It's too late," he warns.
Instead, cultivate the skill to hold you tongue until everyone else has weighed in. Not only does this allow other participants to feel heard, but it gives you an obvious advantage: you get to hear everyone else's brilliant ideas before you contribute your own. Of course, you'll say smarter things compared to when you first walked in itching to put your ideas instantly out there.
The logic behind the idea is unassailable, but actually putting this wisdom into practice can be harder than it sounds, Sinek warns. We're all dying to jump in and prove our brilliance or correct others' errors, after all. But if you can manage to just keep your mouth shut, you'll instantly level up your leadership.
Here's Sinek's complete advice if you want to check out the complete two-minute clip.