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The Cancer of Speaking Up!

Feb 26

There was a post recently on TLNT by Tim Kuppler titled Society is Holding Organizations and Leaders Accountable for Their Culture. Go read it, it’s really good. I agree with so much of what Tim wrote in the piece.

There is one concept though that I’m beginning to question. Kuppler wants to believe that we have a problem in our society and that problem is people are afraid to speak up to their leadership.

About a decade ago I would have 100% agreed with him. In fact, I probably spent more time in training sessions working with leaders on how to get employees to open up, then any other single thing in my HR career a decade ago!

In 2018, we do not have a problem with employees speaking up. In fact, it’s a full-blown Cancer! Yes, I want employees to speak up when they have something of value to add to the conversation, or if they or another employee are being wronged. No, I don’t want to hear your idiot opinions that have nothing to do with anything we have going on to make us better!

I get it. Everyone should have a voice! We are in a time when people have the right to speak up.

Just because you have the right, doesn’t mean you should open your dumb mouth! You have employees in non-leadership positions who should open their mouth and add to the conversation. And, you have employees who make you dumber when they open their mouth.

Your company isn’t a democracy. Turns out businesses don’t run well as democracies. When everyone has a say, we tend to get very cautious and very vanilla, and no innovation happens, as we try to take into account every single opinion. The business gets pulled to the middle. “Middle” is not a good position for businesses.

The challenge we have as leaders and HR pros is not giving everyone a voice. It’s finding the best and brightest in our organizations, regardless of race, gender, etc., and making sure ‘those’ people have a voice.

The fastest way to failure is to listen to everyone and take into account every opinion. That isn’t helpful. Having the foresight to understand there are really great voices beyond your leadership team could be your greatest insight of all, but understand it’s not everyone.

In a representative government, you want all voices to come through. In business, you want the voices to come through that can actually make a positive difference. Unfortunately, that isn’t everyone who works for you.

In business and leadership right now we have a cancer that is growing out of control and that cancer is a belief that every voice matters. That’s wrong. Every voice does not matter, at every time. Do you think Steve Jobs listened to every person at Apple? No, he barely listened to anyone! What about Elon Musk? Again, no. What about Marissa Mayer? Heck, no!

Great business and great innovation don’t happen by listening to everyone. They happen by listening to the right ones. That might not be popular right now in society, but that doesn’t mean it’s not right!

2 Comment to “The Cancer of Speaking Up!”

  1. I’m not as cynical. Listening isn’t equal to accepting the crowds view as the decision. Listening can be done efficiently with today’s tools. Listening has side benefits re execution and finally the folks you note are/were visionaries but are arguably poor leaders. lol. You clearly didn’t listen to any dumb ass followers before writting this post. Not cancer, just too much salt in the diet. Easy to fix.

    Mar 8, 2018
  2. Excellent article, Tim. Great perspective, and timely. Nothing like starting the week my sticking your head in the lion’s mouth. 😉

    Feb 28, 2018

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