I recently took up a leadership role in my team and the first feedback I got from my boss was – “Understand when you have to stay silent and when you must speak”.

I was quite taken aback by this because I have always thought that I had been a good listener which others also acknowledge. So when was I not listening?

Well, when I probed more into it, I figured out that it was not that I wasn’t listening to people; I was given that feedback because I was always coming up with solutions myself. That was not giving enough opportunity to the team to think about the solutions. Maybe if I could give them a little more time and space and guidance – they would come up with the right solutions.

That made a complete sense to me.

Few days ago, I bought a new toy for my son which has blocks of different shapes and the player has to fit the shapes in the right groove – when that happens the toy makes a clapping sound. He does not know any shapes except for a circle (he is 1.5 years old). When I was playing with him, I realized that I had a strong urge to take his hand and put the shape in the right groove. It was so difficult for me to not to that. With continuous practice I learnt how to give away and not guide him every time but give him a chance to figure it out.

Silence is important when you are a teacher, leader or guide. It gives an opportunity for the other person to understand and find out solutions on his own. So, be silent. What makes you a powerful leader is to know the difference between the opportunities that need your input and the opportunities that need your silence!