Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Should Leaders Speak Last in Meetings?

Canadian enterpreneur Cameron Herold argues in this article in the Globe and Mail that leaders should speak last in meetings.  He writes,

When you have quieter, more reserved people in a meeting, the best thing you can do as the leader is hold your ideas back until the end. Too often, leaders offer their ideas first. But people don't become confident, or grow as leaders, by listening to what you have to say. Instead, you need to encourage members of the team to offer their ideas first, especially those less inclined to speak up.

Herold makes a great point here.  I'm not suggesting that leaders should always speak last.  However, in many cases, the leader does need to exercise some restraint so as to insure that all voices will be heard.  Moreover, leaders frame the problem when they open the discussion.  How you frame a problem often drives the types of solutions that are generated.  Leaders need to be careful about not framing a problem in a way that constricts the alternatives that are put forth.  

What should a leader be doing if they are not putting forth their ideas and proposals at the outset of the meeting?  They should be listening actively, asking questions, probing assumptions, requesting additional data if necessary, and calling on those who may be quiet to encourage them to join the conversation.   


Marc Scrivener said...

Several thoughts...

1. People who speak first in meetings tend to rise to leadership, so this may be a hard change for their natural inclination.

2. The best leaders read the room and know when to speak.

3. If the room is full of forceful personalities, it's a whole other scenario.

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