Leaders Should Shut Up

Leaders Should Shut Up

I’ve been in meetings where a leader would get up, start the meeting, give a presentation and conclude the meeting.  In between were no exchange of ideas or communication.  I don’t know if it was because he was nervous and forgot to take the time to engage with others, but it was literally one of the strangest meetings I’ve been a part of.  Granted that this is a rare and extreme example, there are leaders who tend to talk more than they listen.  I wish I can just tell these leaders to shut up and spend more time listening.  They will gain so much more from listening than they will from speaking.

I am in no way saying that leaders should completely go silent.  Communication is a two way street.  Some leaders tend to speak more than they listen.  In doing so, they miss out the opportunity to get feedback and learn.  Leaders need to recognize the following to understand why they should shut up more and allow others to express thoughts and opinions.

  • It’s not about you – Communicating and working with your team is more than just about you. It’s about the team and about the development of the group.  That means that the entire group must have the opportunity to speak as well.  Not just you.

  • Not learning anything – When you speak at others, that’s a one way communication. If others are not communicating with you, there’s no opportunity for you to learn about what they’re thinking.  You don’t get a chance to receive what they have to offer.

  • Message may not be getting across – Part of communicating is to make sure others understand what you’re trying to say. Without proper feedback, you really don’t know if your message is getting across.  There may be misunderstanding or complete confusion which will lead to major problems down the line.  You want others to be able to give feedback as well as asking questions.

  • Preventing growth – When your team isn’t able to communicate with you, they’re not learning. You’re not learning.  Learning can’t happen without open discussion.  Without it, the lack of two way communication impedes growth for everyone involve.


When you speak less and you allow others to speak more, you open up opportunities for so much to happen.  Below are some positive things that will occur when you provide the opportunities for others to share their thoughts and feelings. 

  • Enabling innovation – Allowing your team the freedom speak and share their thoughts and ideas, it also encourages innovation. You’ve spent a great amount of effort surrounding yourself with a great team with great minds.  Listen more to your team and allow them to use their skills to innovate for you.

  • Encouraging communication – When you speak less, it organically encourages and allows others to speak. Just simply making that opportunity available makes a huge difference. You will see your team open up and communicate more with you and as well as amongst themselves.

  • Building confidence – Encouraging your teams to speak more also has the added benefit of building confidence for your team. When your team is allowed to share their ideas, they naturally gain confidence.  Having added confidence will ultimately increase the ability to be more productive.

  • Welcoming opportunities – If you’re the only one speaking, only the ideas you come up with are the ones that gets attention and discussed. But when you take a step back and allow others to speak, more ideas and opportunities will present itself.  Without doing much more, you get more.  In fact, when you speak less, you get more ideas, contributions and opportunities from your team.


Of course as leaders, you must be vocal about the direction you want to take your team.  You must have time to communicate your ideas and set goals and objectives.  However, limit the amount of time you speak and give directives.  Plan and allow more time for others to speak.  Give others the opportunity to contribute their ideas and allow them to work for you.  You’ve done a great job of surrounding yourself with talented and experience people.  Now shut up and let them work for you.

Photo by: Asier

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