I was startled when a senior professional asked me the question mentioned above.
Whether it is about contributing to discussions, pitching ideas, or even expressing difference of opinion, speaking up at work is so important.
On one hand, it is crucial for one’s team and organization wherein leaders with great potential can add valuable inputs. On the other hand, speaking up helps executives gain visibility, influence, credibility, and authority.
Then why do leaders choose to stay silent rather than speak up? Why do they find it challenging to express their viewpoints in their organizations, in meetings and in boardrooms?
Research done by Fierce Conversations and Quantum Workplace revealed that -
About half of employees don't regularly speak their minds at work.
Will my speaking up work against me?
Over time, more than one person across leadership workshops have expressed the fear that speaking up in front of their seniors may work against them.
On deeper probing, I have realised that It is either due to the fear of consequences or for the sake of harmony, that a leader refrains from expressing openly.
"If I speak up, there will be consequences". "What if I may get fired or in bad books of the boss?"
Where does this fear come from?
It can be argued that the culture of fear in the organization as demonstrated by the leadership style is primarily to blame for this lack of expression. It is certainly true. It is indicative of a trust deficit in the organization. Yet, I have found, that in the same organization, there are other people who are willing to voice their opinion. How does that happen?
How is it that in the same organization, and with the same boss, one person is able and willing to speak up while another isn’t? Intriguing, isn’t it?
Having worked with many people on their limiting beliefs, I have found that many a time it is due to some childhood trauma, cultural conditioning or parenting values that turn the most talented people into submissive leaders.