Monday, June 25, 2012

Who Do You Think You Are to Speak Up?!

Returning to Warren Bennis' book, On Becoming a Leader, here is another comment that I believe is paramount. "No one is more valuable to the organization than the subordinate willing to speak truth to power." 

I have to contend that fear is the only thing that makes this declaration hard to accept because on paper it is obvious. If you map out any organization or system, of course the people closest to the issues can speak to the reality of daily operations and their effects more accurately than anyone else. In fact, this is often explicitly stated in systems thinking in this way: The person closest to the problem probably has the best answer to solve it.

This thought raises many questions for me, such as how we define subordinate (and why we even use the word in the first place) or what it means to truly wield power. When considering how much greater we can make the world of the next generation in the future, we cannot help but consider how much greater we can make the current institutions in which they are participating. Within these organizations, there must be people who are willing to speak truth regardless of their position!

It takes no courage to complain to those around us without authority to change things. In fact, it may even soothe our egos to know they agree with us. On the other hand, the courageous act is to speak up even when you know it will be uncomfortable. I admit that there have been times I have stood up and respectfully done just that, and there are also times I have shrunk back.

What I am finding is that a steady resolve for doing what is best for kids helps me to speak up more than shrink back. Of course, as with anything, when there are other "subordinates" who are encouragers and allies willing to speak up together, that is the best case scenario.

Thought for today: What truth do I need to speak to the powers around me? If I am in a position of power, then am I listening honestly to the truth being said to me no matter where it is coming from?

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