Pat Tamakloe, Ph.D.

By Pat Tamakloe, Ph.D.

Leader! Do You Speak Up So You Can Lead Up? Four Reasons Why You Should

Leader! Do You Speak Up So You Can Lead Up? Four Reasons Why You Should 150 150 Pat Tamakloe

In 2017, a man I went to college with and knew as a very driven and accomplished leader crashed into another vehicle in oncoming traffic – he was not injured. However, it turned out he was overspeeding after he had just slashed his wife’s throat at home and was fleeing the scene. Many were both surprised and outraged with anger about why she did not speak up regarding any challenges they had in their marriage. He also never spoke up about any help he needed to garner the support required to resolve the problems that ultimately ruined what would have been a remarkable career and a beautiful home.

You see, speaking up is not only about the concerns or challenges one faces in one’s personal or marital life, but also what one encounters in business. It is not speaking up that kills you, whether slowly or instantly. There is no shame in the game of business if one is to be successful and excel. You have to recognize where your shortcomings are, what areas you need help with, and who you need to communicate the desire, deficiency, or discrepancy to, so you can rectify them.

If you are a leader who cannot speak up for what you know is a problem or an obstacle to your success and accomplishments, you will likely lose followers because they cannot stand down if you cannot stand up for their cause. You will either sink or drown; it’s a matter of what and whom you’re going down with, or whether you are going down alone. However, to excel, four reasons that could save your business and potentially your leadership health are:

  1. For the benefit of the collective team. Often, it is not as much about you as it is about others on your team who need a voice that no one else in your position can provide them. If you are in a post that commands influence, making your voice heard to advocate for those who need it is imperative and expected for everyone’s benefit. Organizations such as the Small Business Administration can help with advocacy of a desired need. A value of leadership is the opportunity to lead others toward a better life. If you cannot provide the collective team’s voice, such as advocating better compensation and workers’ benefits, your value to the team diminishes. Make your voice heard for others.
  2. Suggests compliance and consent. Not saying anything when you should, implies concurrence with the outcome or situation. Being silent without action when a situation is evolving or when it has occurred presents an impression that you are complicit in the behaviors, actions, or inactions at hand. To this end, an excerpt in The Chronicle discusses some pros and cons of ethical compliance. There is undoubtedly a time to be quiet and a time to be vocal by standing up so you can lead up. You lead up by acting on a situation where it would otherwise hinder your success, your efforts, or your growth in relationships with others. See something, say something so that others can excel, and you can too.
  3. Catalyst for change. Often, those who are most vocal about their perspectives are catalysts for transformational change. Leaders do not succumb to the status quo or resist change. In fact, they welcome change because it provides a forum to innovate and elevate new ways of doing business. The Harvard Business Review discusses how you can have change agents in your own organizational culture. When leaders drive change because they speak up for a change they see should occur, they open new doors and bridge new gaps that would otherwise not be explored. Leaders drive change, and change is good for the growth and health of an ever-dynamic world.
  4. Create awareness and build trust. If you have a perspective that no one else has heard off, share it to bring awareness to the cause or notion. Being silent when you have something to share is not leadership, and it’s inconsiderate. Creating awareness of the perspective you have may eventually or in the interim help someone else succeed in their endeavors. In the story shared at the beginning, if the couple in question had sought help by speaking up, someone would have intervened to save a life. Similarly, in business, making a friend, support group, or reputable organization such as a leadership development or coaching organization can help catapult your business to the next level of organizational transformation. Seeking such support will ultimately build trust and engender awareness with those you lead and serve.

In a world where inequalities, rage, and social unrest reign supreme, leaders in all spheres will be compelled to raise their level of self-awareness and enhance their leadership insight so that they can create decisive outcomes for those they lead.  Knowing when to speak up to lead up and when to stand down so others can lead is essential as it is compelling. Speak up!