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Courageous Leadership – Standing Up And Speaking Up

Written by: Santarvis Brown, Senior Level Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Santarvis Brown

Few things are as important in a leader as the ability to speak up and make yourself heard. This is important for many different reasons, the most important of which is improving workplace efficiency and feeling good about the work you do and the mission you are upholding. I know firsthand how hard it can be to speak up when doing so isn’t encouraged, and I think we should look to speak-up culture to help create safe areas where leaders are able to be heard even when their opinions are unpopular.

businessman standing over boardroom table speaking up

Are leaders ever hesitant to speak up?

You might be wondering if leaders are ever truly hesitant to speak up. After all, they’re the boss, right? Well, not quite. Leaders are just as accountable to other people as employees. They often experience much of the same difficulty making themselves heard as other employees do, but when they do speak up, their voice lends issues importance and a sense of urgency that can be difficult for non-leaders to cultivate.

The issues that must be addressed also impact leaders’ willingness to speak up. Some topics might be relatively easy to bring up, but others might place them in contention with other leaders or even the employees working for them. Countering a popular change in workplace policy, for example, is unlikely to net them any loyalty or affection in the office.

Despite these potential difficulties, leaders must be empowered and encouraged to speak up. Ensuring that they have this ability is critical to building healthy workplaces and thriving corporate cultures.

What is speak-up culture?

Managers and other leaders sometimes face serious negative consequences as a result of voicing an opinion or expressing a concern that contradicts official corporate stances, sometimes leading to negative performance reports, less satisfaction in their jobs, and, in extreme cases, even demotion. This is where speak-up culture comes into play.

Speak-up culture refers to a workplace culture that rewards employees, including leaders, for speaking up and giving their opinions. This is in direct contrast to more traditional workplace cultures which frown upon employees at almost any level from voicing concerns or disagreements with management. Because encouraging honest communication can lead to improved organizational effectiveness and improved performance across the board, it is important to encourage leaders to speak their minds even when their opinions aren’t popular.

The best leaders understand that they must demonstrate “leadership courageousness” in all aspects of their work. This includes speaking up even if the consequences are negative. As a leader, you must have the courage to speak up and say the things that matter whether it’s hard to say them or not. With plenty of courage and plenty of hard work, good communication skills, and tireless resolve to improve yourself and your organization, you have the potential to effect real, significant, and permanent change. All you have to do is speak up.

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Santarvis Brown Brainz Magazine

Santarvis Brown, Senior Level Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Dr. Santarvis Brown has spent 15+ years serving as a leader, innovator, and changemaker in education, showcasing in-depth insight as an administrator, educator, and program director. A noted speaker, researcher, and full professor, he has lent his speaking talent to many community and educational forums, serving as a keynote speaker. He has also penned several publications tackling issues in civic service, faith, leadership, and education.



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