Do you speak first or last? – Mark MacLeod

September 21, 2020 - Mark MacLeod

Do you speak first or last?

The CEO is the single most important person in a company. Founding CEOs, in particular, have more knowledge, context & passion than anyone else. There is also a very strong correlation between founder/ CEO success and company outcome. This is why I coach CEOs.

With all this importance, knowledge, context & passion, it can be tempting for CEOs to dominate every important conversation and make all the biggest decisions. I call this persona the Hero CEO.

While there are times when the CEO needs to be the hero, these should be few and far between. If the CEO is the only person making all the most important calls, there are two serious consequences coming from this:

The CEO will burn out over time and be unable to scale this dependency on her as the company grows

Senior leaders will become less engaged as they see that the CEO is driving the agenda.

In Japan, the most senior person in a meeting will typically speak last and say the fewest words. It is a sign of seniority and respect. This approach fosters conversation and engagement from others in the meeting. It also enables the leader to see his or team members in action. To see how they think, interact and lead.

If you swoop into a meeting and make an important call, you will lose the potential input and creativity of the other attendees.

Try speaking last in your meetings. And for many, try not speaking at all – by not even showing up. Empower your team members fully and take the time upfront to think through which topics and decisions require your input and which do not.

Questions to consider

What is my typical role in meetings? Do I come in and dominate? Do I lead with my take on the topic?

What more can I do to foster creativity, engagement and input from my senior leadership team?

What topics/ meetings can I leave exclusively to my leadership team and not attend directly?

Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

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