What’s the old saying, “Better to remain silent and be thought a full rather than to open you mouth and remove all doubt.” Here are some insightful thoughts from Dan Rockwell on things smart leaders never say!


Originally posted by Dan Rockwell on May 22, 2014

Only fools say dumb things, intentionally. Think back to the last dumb thing you said. Did you think it was dumb, before you said it?

The dumb things you’ve said seemed smart at first.


  1. “I meant well.” Sincerely dumb is still dumb.
  2. “I didn’t mean to.” What’s the option? I meant to screw up?!
  3. “I’ll do it myself.”
  4. “Oh! That’s easy.”
  5. “I’m the boss.” Everyone who says, “I’m the boss,” isn’t.

(Check out comments from Facebook fans: “The dumbest things bosses say


  1. Distance makes you dumb. The further you are from an issue, the dumber you are and the more you think you know. Distance give the illusion of knowing.
  2. Delay makes you dumb. Be dumb early.  Ask dumb questions before you go too far down the road. The longer you wait to ask dumb questions, the dumber you become. You look dumb when you pretend you’re smart.
  3. Adding more dumb people doesn’t make you smart. When it comes to solving production problems, the people closest to the issue are smarter than people at the top. The more white shirts and ties in the room, the dumber the room gets.
  4. Talking makes you dumb – doing makes you smart. The people on the floor are working around the plans you made in the office. Everything becomes more complex and difficult when you move from talking to doing.


  1. Listen. Be dumb courageously.
  2. Build relationships.
  3. Develop yourself and others.
  4. Talk mission and vision.
  5. Build strong teams.
  6. Challenge people.
  7. Fuel urgency.

Bonus: work toward clarity and simplicity.

What should leaders never say?

What are the smartest things leaders do?