How Far Down Will You Go With The Ship If You Don’t Speak Truth To Power?
Leadership Lesson: Leadership at any level should include the integrity to stand up against something you don’t believe in, no matter how unpopular the insight might seem and who you might have to tell.
What does it take for you to stand up to a leader or a boss who keeps making missteps?
Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that in this case, we know what we’re talking about with regard to our own experience and specialty in our field, and we see the boss keeps giving misinformation, getting emotional in their response, or contradicting the information we’re defending our mission with?
How and when do we step in? Do we step in? If not, why wouldn’t we?
Fear? Intimidation? Retribution?
If we go too far down this path, what is it that we’re really working for and toward?
If we maintain our silence out of fear of upsetting the leader, after some time of unanswered missteps, will there even be anything left for them to lead and for us to work for?
Anything we work on or do, whether in our personal or professional environment, is an investment. The details and circumstances may vary from situation-to-situation but, overall, everyone is working toward making whatever it is that they are involved in better.
Whether we’re riding solo or part of something bigger, we should want evolution and improvement.
When we’re a part of an institution, organization, group, or team, if we don’t impart our wisdom on the leader to save them from themselves, what are we really doing here?
How willing are you, based on your knowledge, experience, and commitment to-date, to tell a leader something they believe may not be right?
There’s no need to criticize. There’s no need to insult. There’s no need to embarrass anyone. It’s merely to inform.
Again, it’s not what you say but how you say it.
Related Post: As A Professional, In Addition To “Yes,” How Do You Say “No?”
What is your trigger or threshold for pointing out that things are not going well? Is there a certain threat level that needs to be reached for your mission in order for you to stand up and be counted as one that is doing everything they can to improve the environment and fight for the mission?
Are you that committed? Are you that invested?
Do you consider everything up until that moment you may realize something is becoming unworkable an investment? Do you consider everything to-date as an investment of your time, resources, relationships, and reputation?
What if you didn’t say anything? What would happen? Would you be OK with the result? Have you considered what the best and worst case scenarios might be in an environment where the leader’s actions almost seem both counter-intuitive and counter-productive?
At the very least, if you’re not considering how much the (in)actions of the leader might limit positive factors – the growth, development, expansion of your message and mission – are you taking into consideration avoiding falling back into the negative – starting over, degradation of reputation, and loss of time?
Are you only considering certain support you still have from some and not the general impression the masses might have of your situation and effort? Do you weigh and consider how much support is enough or not?
Is the corroboration of a few outside of your work or effort really worth the loss of a more general impression to others? For instance, is the agreement of yes-men and women really sufficient and sound?
If you’re not telling the leader like it is, do your actions solely serve to oppose that which is being said by your usual naysayers and opposition? That no matter what evidence you see of depletion of credibility, you refuse to work toward disarming or slowing down your leader because that is what the “other side” would want to have done?
Does your leader have a reputation for getting rid of someone who may not agree with them? Did you take that into account before you started your job or work with that leader? Did you realize it along the way but remain faithful, regardless? If so, what’s the point of you being around?
Are you riding high-profile coat-tails, hoping that regardless of what happens in the course of the work, after the work is up and people have moved on to other things, that you’ll be taken along for that next ride, initiative, or project? Is the loss of personal credibility, in general, now worth some kind of sense of general job security then?
Each of us will have different circumstances play out in our lives, with different reasoning and needs existing with regard to how we respond.
General advice cannot be given here except that one should weigh all the options and circumstances and, at least, honestly assess what they stand for and what they want for themselves going forward.
There will be those that step up and speak truth to power, and there will be those who don’t. Different motivations exist.
What point or level of severity is it in the situation at which you determine to stand up?
It’s on you to determine for yourself where you stand.
Will you stand up now?
If not, be prepared to suffer the consequences later.
If you wait too long, there won’t be anyone left to believe you are worth taking on or need saving.
So…What About You?
- How much do you censor yourself when it comes to speaking truth to power? If you do, why?
- Have you had regrets later, when that which had caused you to take pause, but which you decided not to share with “power,” actually played out?
- How has your approach to speaking truth to power shifted from either speaking more truth to speaking less, or vice versa? Why?