Speaking truth to power – a followership imperative or supremely idealistic?

It may not be popular, you may be taking a risk, it may even cause an acute stress response, but constructive dissent is a tool that, if used effectively, will benefit your team and your organisation. Let’s not forget that good bosses appreciate employees who are confident to say ‘no’.

‘Easier said than done’ I hear you cry out – however if no-one has the will to challenge, then it simply becomes an organisational limiting belief. Let’s see if the Stress Management and Resilience team can offer some sound reasoning to find a solution:

1.       Avoid the power struggle.

Remember that the decision ultimately lies with your bosses. This doesn’t mean that you cannot have strong opinions on what the right answer may be, but

recognising and understanding that the boss has the final call will help keep things in perspective.

2.       Explain the consequence of the request.

Draw power from facts, for example, ‘Is there something you can take off my plate to allow time to take this project forward?’ Analyse your priorities and see where

the pinch point lie.

3.       Acknowledge that ultimately we have the same goals.

The mutual higher purpose is to serve the organisation and the job is to accomplish the goals. Don’t make this about personality, it is a not who is right, focus on

what is right.

4.       Emphasise.

We are the only mammals that have the ability to put ourselves in another’s shoes and introspect. Listen to your bosses concerns and see it from their viewpoint

before voicing your own. Consider asking ‘I can see your perspective, can I offer another way to think about the situation?’

5.       Offer positive alternatives

No one like problems being dropped on their desk, instead consider some positive ways forward and ensure that when you share, it is a convenient time for your


6.       Share your facts.

Expose with compassion where facts are thin, choose your language carefully and be concise. Acknowledge what you know to be true and how this led you to your

conclusion.  Although it may be tempting to send this across in a beautifully worded email do this face to face so there is no room for ambiguity or being


Let’s go through a few situations…

Situation: You truly don’t have time

Try: ‘Could you help me prioritise my project list’

Situation: You disagree with the strategy in hand

Try: ‘May I throw out another idea to consider’

Situation: You just don’t want to

Try: ‘Perhaps someone else could take… so I can focus my energy on…’

How do you speak your through to power?

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