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Leadership Lessons: How to Speak Truth to Power

Why is it so hard to be honest with someone you report to?
Why is it so hard to be honest with someone you report to?

In my last GUTSY WOMEN’S WEEKEND Program just about every one of the 20 women stated they have real difficulty standing strong and speaking up to their bosses. Those in the program who are the bosses said they are frustrated when no one comes to tell them the truth and they end up hearing it third hand.

Why is it so hard to be honest with someone you report to?

Rather than ask you lots of questions to come to the answer, I am going to give you a “pass” and give you what is truly underneath the fear of speaking up.

It has to do with being a little kid and telling your parent/s you did not like what they said or don’t agree with what they want you to do.

As kids we are still looking up at those big people who have all the power. So, what did we do? Whine and sulk or even better, get a younger sibling to tell your parents what you want and like?

Here are some ideas to become GUTSY and speak truth to power:

  • 1. Acknowledge and appreciate: No, not groveling, simply acknowledge them for what they have to do, all the responsibilities they carry and then tell them you appreciate how they make a difference.
  • 2. Offer to help: We all need help and often those in power are never asked what someone can do to help them. Not to worry if they turn you down, maybe the next time they will seek you out. Just asking changes the dynamic between you.
  • 3. Talk from an “I” place: No voting! Simply say how you feel and what you need. Do not talk from the “everyone thinks” place or you will have to go back to start.
  • 4. Accept feedback no matter what: When you talk truth to power expect that the truth will be told to you. You may not like what you hear. You may just get some good tidbits to help you in your career.
  • 5. Say “thank you”: You may need time to think about what has been said. So will your boss. Set another time to circle back and clear up any misunderstandings or start with #1 again and keep going in a positive way.

Not talking truth to power is so…. Industrial Revolution!! In the old days everyone was afraid to talk to the boss and that fear is still an old, out-molded pattern that needs to be transformed. Be a “Pattern Pioneer,” and experiment with what the world needs now…. YOU to speak up.

You just might be trapped in your “patterns” and keep repeating the same behavior over and over expecting different results. Are You Pattern Aware? Take my FREE Quiz and Find Out!

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