Most people go to great lengths to avoid silence during conversations. They fill silence with anything, regardless of how meaningful (or meaningless). It is as if silence has its own gravitational force that pulls words from our mouths to prevent a single moment of silence. Of course, we have all experienced those three seconds of silence that felt like three minutes.
Excellent leaders not only know the right questions to ask, but they also know how to patiently wait for an answer. They are comfortable with silence. If you are not comfortable with the silence, you will fill it with another question that leaves your original question unanswered and squelches engagement.
After asking an employee a question, your patience creates power. Resist the gravitational pull to fill the void. Your silence creates accountability for a response. You would rather wait for a well-thought-out response than get a quick, half-baked reply.
The sound of your silence lets your team's voice be heard.